Falstaff with Mrs. Ford and Mrs. Page (Shakespeare, The Merry Wives of Windsor, Act 5, Scene 5)
Henry Fuseli (Swiss, Zürich 1741–1825 London)
William Shakespeare (British, Stratford-upon-Avon 1564–1616 Stratford-upon-Avon)
Pen and brown ink over faint graphite
10 1/16 x 7 13/16 in. (25.6 x 19.9 cm)
Bequest of Harry G. Sperling, 1971
Not on view
This rapidly drawn sketch conveys the essence of pose and gesture in a subject found near the end of Shakespeare’s play The Merry Wives of Windsor (act 5, scene 5). Believing himself irresistible, Sir John Falstaff has arranged a nighttime assignation with the canny housewives Mrs. Ford and Mrs. Page in Windsor Great Park, not knowing that the two women are fully aware of his ungallant intentions and intend to publicly embarrass him. Townsfolk approach at lower right, their presence signaled by the backward glance of one of the women.
Inscription: On recto in brown ink: Ramsgate A. 90 In black ink in another hand: 336 At lower left corner an illegible pencil inscription.
Harry G. Sperling (1906–1971); Donor: Harry G. Sperling (1906–1971)
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Drawings and Prints: Selections from the Permanent Collection," February 6, 1995–April 16, 1995.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Drawings and Prints: Selections from the Permanent Collection," July 21, 1997–October 5, 1997.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Drawings and Prints: Selections from the Permanent Collection," April 12–July 18, 2016.
Gert Schiff Johann Heinrich Füssli, 1741-1825. Schweizerisches Institut für Kunstwissenschaft, Oeuvrekataloge Schweizer Künstler, 2 vols., Zurich and Munich, 1973, vol. I, cat. no. 1017, p. 540; vol. II, p. 300, ill.
David H. Weinglass Prints and Engraved Illustrations by and after Henry Fuseli; A Catalogue Raisonné. Aldershot, Hampshire and Brookfield, Vermont, 1994, related engraving by William Bromley, cat. no. 191, pp. 241-2.
Hildegard Hammerschmidt-Hummel Die Shakespeare-Illustration (1594–2000). 3 vols., Wiesbaden and Mainz, 2003, vol. II, pp. 79, 486-7, no. 288, ill.
Artist: Henry Fuseli (Swiss, Zürich 1741–1825 London)Date: 1764–70Medium: Pen and brown ink over graphite on paper; verso, pen and brown ink; framing lines in graphite
Accession: 2000.517a, bOn view in:Not on view