Sir Herbert Beerbohm Tree
in The Merchant of Venice
John Ripley convincingly argues in an article "Sociology and Soundscape: Herbert Beerbohm Tree's 1908 Merchant of Venice" in Shakespeare Quarterly (2005) that Tree's
production of The Merchant of Venice, which premiered at His Majesty's Theatre on 4 April 1908, although censured in its own time and after for its histrionic and scenic excess, reveals itself a century later as a daring and inventive exercise in political Shakespeare, a well-meaning, if ill-fated, attempt to influence public opinion at a time of acute Jewish-Christian hostility.The recent immigration of Jews from the pogroms of Russia had radically added to the Jewish population of London and resulted in a wave of anti-Semitism. Tree's production was an attempt to educate a bigoted English public. The play had a run of 59 performances. The production was revived in 1912 and again in 1913.
The painting was done by Charles Buchel (1872-1950), an artist well known for his theatrical pictures and as an illustrator often chosen by Tree for posters and postcards used for advertising various productions by his company.
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