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William Shakespeare between Tragedy and Comedy

Photo credit: Shakespeare Birthplace Trust

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This painting depicts Shakespeare with the Muses Thalia (Comedy) and Melpomene (Tragedy), who are without their usual attributes of a scroll or viol and a sword or dagger. The figure of Tragedy is neo-Classical in its linearity, and its strict profile and confined gesture are similar to John Flaxman's illustrations to Homer. Comedy is of a type comparable with the slightly risqué figures painted by the Rev. Matthew William Peters (1741/1742–1814).

Shakespeare Birthplace Trust



William Shakespeare between Tragedy and Comedy




oil & gesso on panel


H 109.5 x W 107 cm

Accession number

SBT 1999-49

Acquisition method

purchased with the assistance of the National Art Collections Fund, the Museums and Galleries Commission/Victoria and Albert Museum Purchase Grant Fund and the Friends of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, 1999

Work type


Inscription description

signed and dated R. Westall R A 1825


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Shakespeare Birthplace Trust

Henley Street, Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire CV37 6QW England

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