Robert Alexander Hillingford (British, 1825-1904), Cordelia and King Lear, signed with monogram in black, oil on canvas, 16.5″ x 24″
Hillingford, primarily known for his historic battle scenes, also painted several notable narrative paintings. Cordelia and King Lear is a scene from King Lear by Shakespeare; Act IV, Scene VII: the interior of a French tent; King Lear reclining on a day bed surrounded by Cordelia, musicians and other figures.
KING LEAR: Pray, do not mock me: I am a very foolish fond old man, Fourscore and upward, not an hour more nor less; And, to deal plainly, I fear I am not in my perfect mind. Methinks I should know you, and know this man; Yet I am doubtful for I am mainly ignorant What place this is; and all the skill I have Remembers not these garments; nor I know not Where I did lodge last night. Do not laugh at me; For, as I am a man, I think this lady To be my child Cordelia. CORDELIA And so I am, I am.
Hillingford spent his early years in London, and in 1841, moved to Düsseldorf to begin his studies. After completing a rigorous five years of training, he traveled to Munich, Rome, Florence and Naples. He settled in Italy for several years and focused on paintings scenes of Italian life. One painting from this period, entitled “The Last Evening of the Carnival,” was exhibited at St. Petersburg in 1859. He returned to London in 1864, and exhibited his first painting at the Royal Academy in 1866. It was at this point in his career that he began to concentrate on historical subjects, producing many images of the Napoleonic Wars. He was applauded for his accuracy and attention to detail and became a regular exhibitor at the Royal Academy, British Institution, and at other galleries.