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Shakespeare's Women: the muses of Comedy and Tragedy

Learn about this allegorical portrait of Shakespeare from 1825.

This is part of our Shakespeare's Women series in partnership with the education team. On flickr, we have created a collection around these wonderful ladies.

This allegorical portrait of Shakespeare from 1825 shows him between the female muses of comedy and tragedy, who seem to be competing for his attention. Shakespeare flirts with comedy, but the figure of tragedy dominates--just as Shakespeare's tragic women do. The artist has painted well-known actresses in these roles, but it isn't known who was the model for Shakespeare. We see a very different Shakespeare from the usual balding middle aged man in this painting.

Does this portrait, showing Shakespeare as a young man make you feel differently about him?

- Sylvia Morris