Old Masters Academy

Elegant Art Jokes: FUSELI’S “TITANIA.”

His Titania (also engraved in the Shakspeare Gallery), overflows with elvish fun and imaginative drollery. It professes to embody that portion of the first scene in the fourth act where the spell-blinded queen caresses Bottom the weaver, on whose shoulders Oberon’s transforming wand has placed an ass’ head. Titania, a gay and alluring being, attended by her troop of fairies, is endeavoring to seem as lovely as possible in the sight of her lover, who holds down his head and assumes the air of the most stupid of all creatures. One almost imagines that her ripe round lips are uttering the well-known words,—

“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.”

The rout and revelry which the fancy of the painter has poured around this spell-bound pair, baffles all description. All is mirthful, tricksy, and fantastic. Sprites of all looks and all hues—of all “dimensions, shapes, and mettles,”—the dwarfish elf and the elegant fay—Cobweb commissioned to kill a red-hipped humble-bee on the top of a thistle, that Bottom might have the honey-bag—Pease-Blossom, who had the less agreeable employment of scratching the weaver’s head—and that individual fairy who could find the hoard of the squirrel and carry away his nuts—with a score of equally merry companions are swarming everywhere and in full employment. Mustard-Seed, a fairy of dwarfish stature, stands on tiptoe in the hollow of Bottom’s hand, endeavoring to reach his nose—his fingers almost touch, he is within a quarter of an inch of scratching, but it is evident he can do no more, and his new master is too much of an ass to raise him up.

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