Folger Shakespeare Library

Paul Philippe Cret
1932



The exterior of this Art Deco Neoclassical building contrasts dramatically with its Tudor interior. However, the exterior works with the nearby public buildings like the Jefferson Building of the Library of Congress and the Supreme Court. (The dome of the Jefferson Building peaks over the roof in the photograph in the center.)

East Capitol Street facade

It is a low, horizontal building, the scale of which works with other structures in the surrounding residential area.
 

The entrance, Pegasus relief on the stairway, Art Deco portal

 
The nine windows on the north side have aluminum Art Deco screens in geometric patterns. The relief panels below them, by John Gregory, illustrate scenes from Shakespeare's plays.
Here, on the left, Hamlet confronts his mother with his ghost-father behind her and on the right, the barroom scene from Henry the Fourth, Part One is illustrated, depicting Prince Hal, fat Falstaff with a pillow on his head (the "crown"), and Bardolph behind him.
 

Left: from A Midsummer Night's Dream (4.1)--Titania and Bottom; Center: from Romeo and Juliet (3.5)--Romeo and Juliet kiss with the Nurse standing behind them; Right: from King Lear (3.2)--the storm scene on the heath with Lear mad and the fool kneeling beside him

 
The plan of the building is a "U" with the bottom of the "U" being the long East Capitol Street facade (above). A narrow gallery runs the length of this space while the sides of the "U" are the East and West Wings, the first of which has a theater and the latter has offices. The library proper is in the center of the "U."

The East facade with the masks of Comedy and Tragedy and stylized decoration





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© 2003 Mary Ann Sullivan. I have photographed (on site), scanned, and manipulated all the images on these pages. Please feel free to use them for personal or educational purposes. (I would appreciate being told if you find them useful.) They are not available for commercial purposes without my explicit permission.

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