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).
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Shakespeare Birthplace Trust
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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