|Artist||Samuel Cousins after Sir Edwin Landseer|
|Published||[London, Published November 9th, 1857, by Henry Graves & Comp.y, 6 Pall Mall]|
|Dimensions||Image 530 x 865 mm, Plate 655 x 945 mm|
A superb dark proof impression before letters of Samuel Cousins' mezzotint after Edwin Landseer's 'Scene from A Midsummer Night's Dream. Titania and Bottom.' The engraving depicts Act 4, Scene 1 of Shakespeare's famous comedy, in which the fairy queen Titania, having been bewitched by her husband Oberon, falls in love with the weaver Nick Bottom, himself bewitched by the trickster Puck to have the head of an ass. The fairy queen reclines, besotted, on Bottom's shoulder, while the hapless weaver holds out a hand to the ensemble of sprites and animals that surround him in his forest bower. The mischievous Puck watches on from behind. The original painting was commissioned a decade before the mezzotint's publication by the celebrated engineer and industrialist Isembard Kingdom Brunel, as part of a series of scenes from Shakespeare intended to decorate his London dining room. The scene was chosen by Landseer, allowing the artist to rest upon his considerable talents as a painter of animals. The prominent white rabbit in the foreground is often given as the apocryphal source of inspiration for Lewis Carroll's rabbit in Alice in Wonderland, as the writer had viewed the painting when on display at the Royal Academy in 1851. Another high profile admirer was Queen Victoria, who praised for its enchanting and graceful composition. The painting is now in the collection of the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne.
Edwin Landseer (1802 - 1873) was a painter of sentimental animals, lithographer, etcher and occasional sculptor, illustrator, and playing-card maker. He was born in London and was the son of the line engraver John Landseer. He entered the RA School in 1816 and exhibited at the RA throughout his life.
Samuel Cousins (1801-1887) was an English mezzotint engraver. He was apprenticed from 1814 to the engraver Samuel Reynolds, during which time he engraved many of the 360 mezzotints illustrating the works of Sir Joshua Reynolds. He published his own plates for the first time in 1826, after having established himself as an independent engraver using a combination of stipple engraving and etching processes. As well as self-publishing, Cousins was also employed by many leading print publishers in this period. His most commercially successful works were his prints after popular paintings. In 1855, he was one of only two engravers to be elected Royal Academician, after having been elected an associate engraver of the Academy in 1835.
Whitman 201, ii/iii, Printsellers' Association Index p. 237
Condition: Excellent rich impression. Time toning to margins. Proof impression before all letters on india laid paper. Printsellers' Association blind stamp in bottom left of inscription space. 'Samuel Cousins' pencil signature in bottom right of inscription space. Very faint publisher's line at top right corner of plate.