Gerald Leslie Brockhurst (England, 1890–1978), Ophelia, 1942. Etching. Gift of Dr. Karl A. Meyer 1962-7-30
Installation of Gerald Brookhurst's "Ophelia" in the Trees Gallery. Pictured (from left): Kimberly Sissons, Walter Wilson, CJ McCarrick
On View
Feb 16, 2016–Jan 6, 2017
Main Level, Trees Gallery

Gerald Brockhurst is best known for his portraits of glamorous women, including film stars such as Marlene Dietrich. This etching depicts his mistress Kathleen Nancy Woodward, who became his second wife in 1947. The title of this portrait, Ophelia, references the tragic heroine from William Shakespeare’s play Hamlet.

Grief-stricken by the death of her father and Hamlet’s rejection of her, Ophelia falls into a brook and drowns. Rather than portraying Ophelia as a vulnerable or insane woman, as most artists of the period did, Brockhurst depicts her gazing confidently at the viewer. He achieved a rich tonality through the use of dense crosshatching and employed tiny dots and dashes to give the face and hands a soft, radiant quality.

Ophelia is now on view as a Gallery Feature in the Trees Gallery at Krannert Art Museum.  

2016, marks the 400th anniversary of the death of William Shakespeare. For more on Shakespeare, including special events and an exhibition entitled O put me in thy books! visit the University of Illinois Rare Book & Manuscript Library. The Shakespeare exhibition will be on view at the Library through April 25, 2016. 

Maureen Warren
Curator of European and American Art