Romeo and Juliet, designs by Oliver Messel

[Pages and plates from the limited edition of Romeo and Juliet with designs by Oliver Messel, published by B.T. Batsford Ltd, London, in 1936.]

The work of Oliver Messel needs no introduction to anyone in England interested in the theatre. His designs for “Helen” and other productions of Charles B. Cochrane’s have brought him a reputation as one of the leading English stage designers of to-day. In the autumn of 1935 he went to Hollywood to design the settings and costumes for the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer production of Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet,” produced by Irving Thalberg, starring Norma Shearer and Leslie Howard, and directed by George Cukor.
The publishers, in issuing this volume, feel that it will be not only a fitting souvenir of an important film and yet another marked advance in film technique, but at the same time a work which will rank among the finest editions of Shakespeare’s famous tragedy. The clear and finely printed pages of Shakespeare’s text are enhanced by 32 plates finely reproduced in delicate collotype direct from the artist’s original drawings, and 8 colour reproductions, which are mounted on special paper.
Oliver Messel’s delicate yet vigorous drawings exemplify the spirit and beauty of the lines and are all reproduced to a large scale.
To preserve the quality of the work, only a small edition of the book is being printed, and this is likely to be soon exhausted, forming as it does an ideal gift to any lover of the stage and Shakespeare and to anyone interested in a sympathetic interpretation by one of England’s most brilliant designers.

Romeo and Juliet With
designs by Oliver Messel



1 - Juliet

1 – Juliet






Oliver Messel’s Note


2 – Benvolio
I do but keep the peace…


3 –
Where, underneath the grove of sycamore,
That westward rooteth from the city’s side…


4 – Romeo
Is the day so young?


5 – Paris
But now, my lord, what say you to my suit?

Lord Capulet

6 – Lord Capulet
This night I hold an old-accustom’d feast…

Scene 2

7 –
… where’s my daughter? call her forth to me

Lady Capulet

8 – Lady Capulet
Marry, that marry is the very theme
I come to talk of


9 – Juliet
I’ll look to like, if looking liking moves
But no more deep will I endart mine eye,
That your consent gives strength to make it fly.


10 – Mercutio
O! then, I see, Queen Mab hath been with you

Scene 3

11 –
A hall! a hall! give room, and foot it, girls

Scene 4

12 – A Street
Enter Romeo, Mercutio, Benvolio, with five or six Maskers,
Torch-bearers, and others


13 – Romeo
With love’s light wings did I o’erperch these walls…

Scene 5

14 –
But, soft! what light through yonder window breaks!

Scene 6

15 –
See, how she she leans her cheek upon her hand!

Scene 7

16 – The grey-ey’d morn smiles on the frowning night…


17 – Tybalt
To strike him dead I hold it not a sin


18 – Juliet
… and Juliet is the sun!–


19 – Juliet
The clock struck nine, when I did send the nurse…


20 – Juliet
So shows a snowy dove trooping with crows…


21 – Tybalt
What wouldst thou have with me?


22 – Juliet
Gallop apace, you fiery-footed steeds…

Guest at the Capulet ball

23 – Guest at the Capulet ball


24 – Romeo
Night’s candles are burnt out…


25 – Juliet
Wilt thou be gone?…

Scene 8

26 – Juliet’s Bedroom
What! wilt thou wash him from his grave with tears?

Lady Capulet

27 . Lady Capulet
Talk not to me, for I’ll not speak a word

Friend to Lady Capulet

28 – Friend to Lady Capulet


29 – Juliet
And I will do it without fear or doubt,
To live an unstain’d wife to my sweet love.

Guest at the Capulet ball

30 – Guest at the Capulet ball

Guest at the Capulet ball

31 – Guest at the Capulet ball

Scene 9

32 –
… And as the custom is,
In all her best array bear her to the church…

Friend to Lady Capulet

33 – Friend to Lady Capulet

Page to Mercutio

34 – Page to Mercutio


35 – Sampson – Capulet man at arms


36 – Balthasar – Montague man at arms

Negro page to Paris

37 – Negro page to Paris


38 – Juliet
Sweet flower, with flowers thy bridal bed I strew…

Scene 10

39 –
… And never from this palace of dim night
Depart again…

Prince of Verona

40 – Prince of Verona For never was a story of more woe, Than this of Juliet and her Romeo.