Philip H. Calderon. The Young Lord Hamlet, 1868.

Oil on canvas, 34.5 x 55 inches. The Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Sandor Korein.

This imaginative scene is based on Hamlet's meditation on the skull of Yorick, old Hamlet's jester. In the graveyard (Act V, Scene i) the gravedigger hands the skull of the King's jester to Hamlet, who says:

Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him, Horatio: a fellow of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy: he hath borne me on his back a thousand times; and now, how abhorred in my imagination it is! my gorge rises at it. Here hung those lips that I have kissed I know not how oft. Where be your gibes now? your gambols? your songs? your flashes of merriment, that were wont to set the table on a roar? Not one now, to mock your own grinning? quite chap-fallen? Now get you to my lady's chamber, and tell her, let her paint an inch thick, to this favour she must come; make her laugh at that.

In this typical family scene, so popular with the Victorians, young Hamlet rides on the back of Yorick, with Gertrude sitting near by. Can we imagine that the woman holding the child is the wife of Polonius with her baby Ophelia?