Saturday, April 4, 2015

Falstaff and His Companions

Paul Konewka - Falstaff and His Companions (1872)

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"This Falstaffiade owes its origin to one of the strangest revivals of unauthentic tradition and distorted history."  The author of the introduction is referring to Shakespeare's Henry IV, Part One which took an old, certainly false story about the prince hanging out with common folk and transformed it into a play (apparently one of his most popular during his lifetime), along the way creating the indelible character of Falstaff.

For this book artist Paul Konewka (1840-1871) made silhouettes of Falstaff and other characters accompanied by quotes from the plays.  This introduction isn't clear but one source says Konewka worked by paper cutting and another that he worked by pen.  Konewka also did Midsummer Night's Dream and Goethe's Faust but neither seem to have been scanned.  Lewis Carroll mentioned him positively in a letter (May 7, 1878) though Konewka sadly never illustrated Alice.  The Metropolitan Museum of Art holds several of his works - none are online or on display.