12/20/10

John Henry Fuseli/ Johann Heinrich Füssli, Titania and Bottom (Die Elfenkönigin Titania streichelt den eselsköpfigen Zettel)


Tate Gallery, London

Date: c. 1790
Technique: Oil on canvas, 2172 x 2756 mm

Titania, the queen of the fairies, has been made by her jealous husband Oberon to fall in love with Bottom, whose head has been magically transformed into that of an ass. Bottom orders her fairies to serve his whims. Peaseblossom scratches his head, Mustardseed rubs his nose, Cobweb, standing on Bottom's outstretched hand, is ordered to kill a bumblebee. The painting was commissioned by John Boydell for his Shakespeare Gallery.

QUEEN. Come, sit thee down upon this flowery bed,
While I thy amiable cheeks do coy,
And stick musk-roses in thy sleek smooth head,
And kiss thy fair large ears, my gentle joy.
BOTTOM. Where’s Pease-blossom?
PEASEBLOSSOM. Ready.
BOTTOM. Scratch my head, Pease-blossom. –
Where’s monsieur Cobweb?
COBWEB. Ready.
BOTTOM. Monsieur Cobweb; good monsieur,
get your weapons in your hand, and kill me a
red-hip’d bumble bee on the top of a thistle;
and, good monsieur, bring me the honey-bag.

William Shakespeare,
A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1595-6), Act IV, Scene 1

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