"Therefore, be merry Cassio": plate 6 from Othello (Act 3, Scene 3)
Suite of fifteen prints: Shakespeare's Othello / Quinze Esquisses à l'eau forte dessinées et gravées par Théodore Chasseriau
Théodore Chassériau (French, Le Limon, Saint-Domingue, West Indies 1819–1856 Paris)
William Shakespeare (British, Stratford-upon-Avon 1564–1616 Stratford-upon-Avon)
Etching, engraving, roulette, drypoint on chine collé; first edition of 1844
plate: 12 1/2 x 9 5/8 in. (31.8 x 24.5 cm)
image: 10 9/16 x 8 7/16 in. (26.8 x 21.5 cm)
The Elisha Whittelsey Collection. The Elisha Whittelsey Fund, 1959
Not on view
In 1844 Eugène Piot commissioned the young Chassériau to prepare fifteen illustrations to Shakespeare's Othello. Inspired by a series of ground-breaking Hamlet lithographs that Delacroix had created one year earlier, the younger artist opted for the more linear technique of etching. His expressive conception of form had been learned in Ingres's studio then developed under Delacroix. In the series, key exchanges offer a compressed summary of much of the play, with a final cluster devoted to the tragic conclusion. Here, Desdemona promises to plead Cassio's cause with Othello, not realizing that this will fatally strengthen her husband's unfounded belief that she and Cassio are lovers.
Signature: in plate, lower left corner, within image: "T.C. 1844" [in reverse]; lower right below image: "Th. Chasseriau inv. et sc."
Inscription: in plate, above image: "Othello, Pl. 6"; below: "Desdemona: "Therefore be merry, Cassio; For they solicitor shall rather die / Than give thy cause away..."; "Publie par Cabinet des Amateurs, Rue de Lafitte 2"
Fisher 1979, pp. 66-72
Jay McKean Fisher Théodore Chassériau Illustrations for Othello. Baltimore Museum of Art, Baltimore, 1979-80, pp. 66-72, ill.
Hildegard Hammerschmidt-Hummel Die Shakespeare-Illustration (1594–2000). 3 vols., Wiesbaden and Mainz, 2003, vol. III, pp. 1028, 1236, no. 2780, ill.
Maria Grazia Messina "Shakespeare and Romantic Painting in Europe" in Shakespeare in Art, published on the occasion of the exhibition, Dulwich Picture Gallery. Jane Martineau, 2003, pp. 174-179 (opinions of Shakespeare in France, stage productions and paintings made in response by Delacroix and Chasseriau).
Artist: Théodore Chassériau (French, Le Limon, Saint-Domingue, West Indies 1819–1856 Paris)Date: ca. 1837–38Medium: Brush, ink and gray wash, heightened with white over graphite on beige laid paperAccession: 1975.131.94On view in:Not on view
Artist: Théodore Chassériau (French, Le Limon, Saint-Domingue, West Indies 1819–1856 Paris)Date: ca. 1846Medium: Watercolor over graphite on wove paper (trimmed and laid down on blue wove paper)Accession: 64.188On view in:Not on view
Artist: Théodore Chassériau (French, Le Limon, Saint-Domingue, West Indies 1819–1856 Paris)Date: 1838Medium: Graphite and touches of black chalk on beige laid paperAccession: 46.177.1On view in:Not on view