Sir Joshua Reynolds. Cardinal Beaufort's Bedchamber, late 1780's.

This is Plate XVII in The Boydell Shakespeare Prints. The caption says, "Act III. Scene III. Cardinal Beaufort's Bedchamber. King Henry, Salisbury, and Warwick. The Cardinal in Bed. Painted by Sir Joshua Reynolds, late President of the Royal Academy. Engraved by Caroline Watson."

Like Henry Fuseli's drawing, the picture illustrates the scene in Henry VI, Part II, when the Cardinal hallucinates and writhes in remorse over his part in the death of Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester. The particular line alluded to by Reynolds is Warwick's observation: "See how the pangs of death do make him grin." And like Fuseli Reynolds's picture pays homage to Poussin's The Death of Germanicus.

Reynolds's painting was regarded as one of the finest in the Boydell Gallery, but one detail of his work caused a stir among the critics. "The subject," Richard Altick observes, "was already a familiar one, having been included in most illustrated editions of the play, but Reynolds added an extra touch by stationing a fiend at the dying cardinal's head as a visible symbol of his guilty conscience. Although some acclaimed the picture generally as Reynolds's finest achievement, the fiend was widely condemned; and Reynolds painted it out before the picture was engraved, though compensating for its removal by intensifying the death's-head grin into which Beaufort's face was contorted" (280).