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the consulting room
by rc dewinter
- Artist Notes
- © 2011 RC deWinter ~ All Rights Reserved
The year: 1899
The place: Buffalo, NY
The event: The American debut of the play Sherlock Holmes, adapted, directed and performed.
by William Gillette with the imprimatur of the author of the Holmes canon, Arthur Conan Doyle.
William Gillette – the American playwright, director, actor – brought Sherlock Holmes to life for generations of theater-going American audiences.
He was born in 1853 in the same Hartford, Connecticut neighborhood that was also home to Harriet Beecher Stowe and Mark Twain.
For decades, Gillette was the absolute embodiment of Conan Doyle’s much-beloved fictional detective, and it was this line from his play – “Oh, this is elementary, my dear fellow” – that gave rise to the oft-repeated “Elementary, my dear Watson”, first spoken by Clive Barker, who was the original talking film actor to portray the great detective. The line never actually appears in any of Conan Doyle’s written works.
William Gillette eventually built an eclectic house, which he often called his ‘Hadlyme stone heap’ – known today simply as ‘Gillette Castle’ – in that town on a high bluff overlooking the Connecticut River. The room in this painting is one of the many in that house, and it is where I imagine ‘the American Sherlock Holmes’ might have received visitors seeking his assistance.
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