Tag Archives: Smirke

Give Me Life

Dressed in his plumed hat and fine clothes while he brandishes a shield on his left arm and a sword in his right hand, Falstaff is worthy of his title as Sir John Falstaff in the 18th century English painter Robert Smirke’s “Falstaff and the Dead Body of Hotspur”. Beneath his left foot lies the body of Hotspur while the Battle of Shrewsbury rages on in the background. Situated in the middle of the painting while his bright suite of clothes and flushed cheeks stand in contrast to both the dark background and Hotspur’s muted red and black clothes, there is no doubt that Falstaff is the hero of this painting. The glaring discrepancy between this image and the actual unheroic scene between Falstaff and Hotspur’s dead body in Shakespeare’s Henry the Fourth, Part I is no accident – it serves as a critique of Falstaff’s self-serving nature and indicates the tension between Falstaff and Hotspur’s attitudes on honor. Continue reading