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Scene from A Midsummer Night's Dream. Titania and Bottom

Scene from A Midsummer Night's Dream. Titania and Bottom

oil on canvas
82.0 × 133.0 cm
Accession Number
International Painting
Credit Line
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Felton Bequest, 1932
This digital record has been made available on NGV Collection Online through the generous support of Digitisation Champion Ms Carol Grigor through Metal Manufactures Limited
Gallery location
19th Century European Paintings Gallery
Level 2, NGV International

Commissioned from the artist by Isambard Kingdom Brunel Esq. (1806–59), for his Shakespeare Room, London, 1850; his collection, until 1859; included in the Brunel estate sale, Christie's, London, 20 April 1860, no. 223; from where purchased by Lord Robert Pelham-Clinton (1820–67), North Nottinghamshire; his collection, 1860–67; collection of Adelbert Wellington Brownlow-Cust (1844–1921), 3rd Earl Brownlow, London, Belton, Lincolnshire and Ashridge House, Berkhamsted, by 1873– c. 1886; from whom acquired by Sir William Cuthbert Quilter (1841–1911), 1st Baronet, Bawdsey Manor, Suffolk, c. 1886; his collection, until 1909; included in the Cuthbert-Quilter sale, Christie's, London, 9 July 1909, no. 60; from where purchased by Henry (Heinz) Lowenfeld (d. 1931, Paris); Lowenfeld collection, London, 1909–31; offered for purchase by his widow Mrs Henry Lowenfeld, and from whom acquired, on the advice of Randall Davies, for the Felton Bequest, 1932.

Exhibited: Royal Academy, London, 1851, no. 157, lent by Brunel; The Works of the late Sir Edwin Landseer, R.A., Royal Academy Winter Exhibition, London, 1874, no. 236, lent by Earl Brownlow; Winter exhibition of British artists deceased since 1850, Royal Academy, London, 1901, no. 67, lent by Sir William Cuthbert Quilter; Franco-British Exhibition, Shepherd’s Bush (present-day White City), London, 1908, no. 88, lent by Sir William Cuthbert Quilter; Sir Edwin Landseer, Tate, London and Philadelphia, 1981–2, no 139; The First Fifty Years: 19th Century British Art from the Gallery Archives, NGV, Melbourne, 1992; Hidden Treasures, David Jones Gallery, Sydney, 1992; Victorian Fairy Painting, Royal Academy, London, touring to The University of Iowa and The Art Gallery of Ontario, 1997–98, no. 12.

This painting illustrates a scene from William Shakespeare’s famous comedy A Midsummer Night’s Dream. We see Titania, Queen of the Fairies, at the moment when, drugged with a love potion, she becomes enchanted with the artisan Bottom, who has been magically turned into an ass. The painting was commissioned from Landseer by the wealthy industrialist Isambard Kingdom Brunel (1806–59), Chief Engineer of Britain’s Great Western Railway and one of the nineteenth century’s greatest engineers and inventors. When the author Lewis Carroll once saw the painting it inspired him to create the character of the White Rabbit for his children’s book, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.


Thought to be contemporary with the painting, though acquired in 1932, this frame is likely to be the one used for the exhibition of the painting at the Royal Academy in 1851.
The frame might be compared to the one on Orchardson’s The First Cloud and Alma Tadema’s The Vintage Festival. These frames, though richly ornamented, are essentially linear in form. Strongly contrasted to Baroque frames, their heritage is in the Classical Revival and the Italian Renaissance.

Unknown - 19th century

timber, composition, gold leaf


The outer part of the frame has been painted over with gold paint.

129 x 180 x 12 cm


Location of stamp
Twice on reverse of loose lining canvas. Also impressed into centre cross brace BROWN/163/HIGH HOLBORN
Ink stencil and impressed stamp
More Information
National Portrait Gallery