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Prospero, Caliban, and Miranda in Shakespeare’s The Tempest, Act 1, Scene 2

After studying art in Rome during the 1770s, Henry Fuseli moved to London, where he became Europe’s most famous painter of Shakespearean subjects. His dramatic style and predilection for the supernatural elements in the Shakespearean repertoire brought him special acclaim. This work reflects the Romantic taste for the “Gothic”—a term used at the time to describe the supernatural and demonic. It depicts a scene from Shakespeare’s 1611 play The Tempest, in which the wizard Prospero, protecting his daughter Miranda from the advances of his slave, Caliban, threatens the latter with magical powers. Caliban’s twisted figure, flooded in strong light, dramatically dominates the composition.

Henry Fuseli
Swiss (active in England), 1741–1825
Prospero, Caliban, and Miranda in Shakespeare’s The Tempest, Act 1, Scene 2
ca. 1806–10
Oil on canvas
35 ½ x 27 ½ in. (90.2 x 69.8 cm)
Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art, 79.70