Photo of Lear’s fool

Something wonderfully quirky about this old photo of a Swedish actor, Ivar Nilsson, in the role of King Lear’s fool. 

The costume with the rabbit ear cap is striking, but it is the facial expression and make up which captivates, including an off-centre nose and a penetratingly wry gaze.  You can imagine him looking just like this after uttering one of my favourite Shakespeare fool quotes.  

See also a stunning 18th century sketch of Lear in his madness being approached by Edgar feigning it.

Credit: Photo of Ivar Nilsson as the fool in King Lear at the Royal Dramatic Theatre in Sweden, 1908. Scanned glass negative, courtesy Swedish Performing Arts Agency, public domain.

Credit: Photo of Ivar Nilsson as the fool in King Lear at the Royal Dramatic Theatre in Sweden, 1908. Scanned glass negative, courtesy Swedish Performing Arts Agency, public domain.
2 Comments
  1. Angela Halvorsen Bogo

    My friend Wendy Allegaart in Portland, who was a Shakesperian fool in the recent Festival of the Fool, researched lots of films of Lear in preparation. Interestingly much of the fool is often cut in those films.

    Reply
    • beatriceotto

      Thank you Angela, quite a stunning revelation. Hard to see how you can cut the fool out of Lear, he’s so critical, in all senses. Wendy’s exuberant performance at the Festival also prompted me to feature that much-loved quotation here.

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