- This framed mezzotint print is a copy of the painting “Midsummer Night’s Dream”. Isambard Kingdom Brunel had the original painting created for his Shakespeare inspired dining room.
- It shows a scene from William Shakespeare’s play Midsummer Night’s Dream. It is the moment where Fairy Queen Titania, who has been put under a spell, wakes up and falls in love with Bottom, a human who has been enchanted to look like an ass.
- This print was made by the artist Samuel Cousins, but is undated so we cannot be sure exactly when it was produced. The print is signed in pencil by the artist of the original painting, Edwin Landseer.
- Landseer’s original painting was one of ten Shakespeare paintings, all by different artists, commissioned by Brunel. It was sold after Brunel’s death and is now in the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, Australia.
Art in the Shakespeare Room
The dining room in Isambard and Mary Brunel’s London home was known as the Shakespeare Room. This was because on the walls hung nine different paintings showing scenes from William Shakespeare plays. They included scenes from Midsummer Night’s Dream, As You like It and Macbeth. Another Shakespeare inspired painting hung in their drawing room.
Brunel was a fan of Shakespeare’s plays and commissioned some of the best British artists at the time, including Edwin Landseer, to celebrate the playwright. His chosen artists joined him for dinner on 18 December 1847 to discuss the project. The artists could choose the subject for their painting as long as it showed a scene from a popular Shakespeare play. The group met again in January 1848 where they discussed their ideas for their paintings. At a third meeting Brunel looked over rough sketches to make sure that all the pictures worked well together and would suit his dining room. The paintings were completed over the next few years with the last, showing a character from The Winter’s Tale, finished in 1856.
You can see a print of the original Landseer painting in a recreation of the Shakespeare Room at Brunel’s SS Great Britain.