September 21, 2017

Shakespeare First Folio on View at HMA in October

An opening reception to welcome the Shakespeare First Folio display to the Huntington Museum of Art will take place on Sunday, Oct. 1, 2017, from 2 to 3 p.m. Marshall University Theatre students will present scenes from a variety of Shakespeare’s plays and the Cabell Midland Collegium Musicum will also perform, followed by refreshments for museum guests. Admission to this event is free.

The Shakespeare First Folio being on view during the month of October at HMA is being presented in conjunction with the exhibit titled The Art of Patronage: 50th Anniversary of The Daywood Gift Presented by City National Bank, which continues on view at HMA through Feb. 4, 2018.

HMA is proud to have been the home to The Daywood Collection for five decades thanks to the outstanding art collection put together by Arthur Dayton and Ruth Woods Dayton. While many people are familiar with Arthur Dayton’s prowess as an art collector, some may not realize that he also amassed a world-class book collection as well, one that included many rare treasures such as the Nuremburg Chronicle from 1493 and a number of scarce volumes of English and American literature. One prize that he had hopes of obtaining for many years, the First Folio of Shakespeare, finally came into his possession after he was a successful bidder at an auction at Parke-Bernet Galleries in New York on November 26, 1946. 

“Since I became an adult, my two greatest book ambitions were to have the four folios of Shakespeare and the first editions of Jane Austen’s completed novels,” Arthur Dayton wrote to Arthur Swann on April 26, 1947. Having previously collected the second, third and fourth folios, Arthur was able to complete his set of the early Shakespeare folios by obtaining the rarest of the group in 1946. Following Arthur’s death in 1948, Ruth Woods Dayton donated Arthur’s book collection, including the Shakespeare folios and Jane Austen novels, to the West Virginia University Library, where it now resides. 

The Huntington Museum of Art is grateful to the WVU Library for the loan of Arthur Dayton’s copy of the Shakespeare First Folio, which will be on display during the month of October, and would like to acknowledge the assistance of Director & Curator John Cuthbert and Rare Book Librarian Stewart Plein in making this possible.

Shakespeare’s First Folio was the first published collection of a group of Shakespeare’s plays, put together by two of his colleagues and friends in 1623, seven years after the author’s death.  Beyond being the first comprehensive collection of Shakespeare’s works, the First Folio is directly responsible for our knowledge of at least 18 plays that had not been previously printed.  Some of these plays include Julius Caesar, Macbeth, The Taming of the Shrew, and The Tempest.  Without this published folio, some of the most famous and beloved of Shakespeare’s plays may not have been made known to us. The folio contains 36 of Shakespeare’s plays in total, grouped together as comedy, history, or tragedy for the first time.  Each of the First Folios is slightly different from the next as each copy was individually printed and mistakes were fixed as the printing occurred. It is believed that about 750 or fewer copies of the First Folio were originally published, and today only 233 of those survive. The largest collection of First Folios, numbering 82, lives at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington D.C.

HMA thanks Intern Samantha Riggs for her research on this topic.

This program is presented by City National Bank.

With support from The Isabelle Gwynn and Robert Daine Exhibition Endowment.

Additional support comes from The Katherine and Herman Pugh Exhibitions Endowment.

This program is presented with financial assistance from the West Virginia Division of Culture and History, and the National Endowment for the Arts, with approval from the West Virginia Commission on the Arts.

HMA's hours are 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday; and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. Admission is free on Tuesdays courtesy of Macy's and $5 per adult on other days. For more information on events at HMA, visit www.hmoa.org or call (304) 529-2701. HMA is fully accessible.

West Virginia residents may obtain a summary of the registration and financial documents from the Secretary of State, State Capitol, Charleston, WV 25305. Registration does not imply endorsement.