A Midsummer Night's Dream (Shakespeare, Act 4, Scene 1)

After Sir Edwin Henry Landseer British
Engraver Samuel Cousins British
Subject William Shakespeare British

Not on view

The fairy queen Titania here leans adoringly against Bottom, a weaver who has magically been given the head of an ass (in Shakespeare’s act 4, scene 1). Fairies and enchanted animals attend the pair within a woodland bower, as the queen’s gauzy attire and her paramour’s Turkish slippers suggest a harem scene. Watching gleefully from behind is Puck, the sprite who engineered the bizarre coupling at the behest of the queen’s angry husband, Oberon. Cousins skillfully manipulated the soft tonal technique of mezzotint and mixed it with other intaglio methods to reproduce a painting by the celebrated animal painter Landseer. When that work (made for the English engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel) was exhibited in 1851, Queen Victoria praised it as "a gem, beautiful, fairy-like and graceful."

A Midsummer Night's Dream (Shakespeare, Act 4, Scene 1), After Sir Edwin Henry Landseer (British, London 1802–1873 London), Mixed method engraving with mezzotint on chine collé; second state of three

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