Interactions between Poetry and Painting: Alfred, Lord Tennyson

June 6, 2018 @ 7:00 pm – 8:30 pm
Salem Athenaeum
337 Essex St
Salem, MA 01970
$10 members, $15 non-members, Free for students with ID.
Salem Athenaeum

Final lecture in the series: Alfred, Lord Tennyson.

For those who wish to read in preparation for the lecture, Dr. Schopf recommends reading the following poems by Tennyson.

“The Lady of Shalott”
“Morte d’Arthur”
  Idylls of the King
These poems can be found online at
(Please note: the Idylls consists of 12 lengthy narrative poems, a Victorian re-telling of the Arthurian tales; participants can read selectively in them or just a summary, both of which are available online.)


In this three-lecture series, Dr. Sue Weaver Schopf will explore questions that have often been asked in studies of the sister arts: What can poetry express that painting cannot? What can painting express that poetry cannot? And what are the artistic possibilities when painting and poetry work in tandem to convey ideas and express emotion?

William Blake and Dante Gabriel Rossetti were both painters and poets, who experimented with the potential of each medium. But when they began to illustrate their poetry, they discovered the full range of expression possible when the visual and verbal arts function as compliments to each other.

Among the many poems of the 19th century, none were more frequently illustrated than those by Alfred, Lord Tennyson. What drew artists to his poetry, and how did their paintings enhance or further elucidate the author’s works? These interesting dynamics will be the subject of separate lectures on April 20 (Blake), May 16 (Rossetti), and June 6 (Tennyson). A list of poems to be considered will be made available before each lecture.

Sue Weaver Schopf is Distinguished Service Lecturer and retired Associate Dean at the Harvard Extension School. She has served on the board of the Salem Athenaeum and is a member the Program Committee.