200 years ago Keats was inspired by images which were ‘full of romance’

On Sunday 27 December 1818, Keats dined with the painter Benjamin Robert Haydon at Lisson Grove, and handed over £30 (which he had borrowed from his publisher for the purpose). Haydon was expecting rather more.
Keats wrote to his brother George: ‘I looked over a Book of Prints taken from the fresco of the Church at Milan, the name of which I forget — in it are comprised Specimens of the first and second age of art in Italy. I do not think I ever had a greater treat out of Shakspeare. Full of Romance and the most tender feeling — magnificence of draperies beyond any I ever saw, not excepting Raphael’s. But Grotesque to a curious pitch — yet still making up a fine whole — even finer to me than more accomplish’d works — as there was left so much room for Imagination.’

[The prints were actually of the fresco at the Camposanto at Pisa. Images from them would appear throughout the next poem he wrote: ‘The Eve of St Agnes’.]

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