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The Willow Song, plate nine from Othello

A work made of etching, engraving, roulette, drypoint on off-white china paper, laid down on white wove paper.
CC0 Public Domain Designation

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  • A work made of etching, engraving, roulette, drypoint on off-white china paper, laid down on white wove paper.

Date:

1844

Artist:

Théodore Chassériau
French, 1819-1856

About this artwork

Shakespeare’s tragic tale of the Moorish general Othello, his bride, Desdemona, and the scheming Iago explores the timeless themes of racism, love, jealously, and betrayal. The play had gained considerable popularity in France by 1844. Though little is known of the specifics of this particular commission, it was a project that captivated Théodore Chassériau for years. These two prints, from Chassériau’s series of 15 plates, illustrate the emotional crescendo of Desdemona and Othello’s relationship. Plate 9 tenderly represents Desdemona’s despair when she sings the Willow Song. Her words—“Let nobody blame him; his scorn I approve”—are prophetic. Later, convinced of her infidelity, Othello smothers her with a pillow. Plate 14 shows the moment Emilia tells Othello of Desdemona’s innocence and Iago’s treachery. Chassériau’s use of gesture links the three central characters in a dramatic pyramidal composition that conveys the poignant meaning of the scene.

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Prints and Drawings

Artist

Théodore Chassériau

Title

The Willow Song, plate nine from Othello

Origin

France

Date

Made 1844

Medium

Etching, engraving, roulette, drypoint on off-white China paper, laid down on white wove paper

Dimensions

293 × 229 mm (image); 368 × 263 mm (plate); 557 × 410 mm (sheet)

Credit Line

The Joseph Brooks Fair Collection

Reference Number

1955.1096

Extended information about this artwork

Object information is a work in progress and may be updated as new research findings emerge. To help improve this record, please email . Information about image downloads and licensing is available here.

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