Othello and Desdemona
(Alexandre-Marie Colin)


Colin may first have become interested in depicting Shakespearean subjects when he visited London in 1824 in the company of Delacroix and Bonington. The Othello and Desdemona is a bravura work, faithful to the text, and full of energy and color. The exquisitely painted Desdemona is finely drawn and delicately colored – as is appropriate for “a maid so tender, (and) fair” (Brabanzio: Othello, Act 1, scene 2). The scene portrayed is set with the direction “he draws back a curtain, revealing Desdemona asleep in her bed” (Othello, Act 5, scene 2, introduction). After accusing her of infidelity with Cassio, – in a scene during which Desdemona pleads hopelessly for her life, Othello smothers her with the pillow. Here is the very moment when he moves to open the door to Emilia, Desdemona’s loyal maid. Desdemona still struggling with her dying breath, responds to Emilia’s cries “A guiltless death I die; (Emilia) O, who hath done this deed? (Desdemona) Nobody, I myself. Farewell. Commend me to my kind Lord. O, Farewell!” with which she expires.

20 by 24 inches
Oil on canvas
Where is It?
Acquired by the New Orleans Museum of Art
Historical Period
Romanticism - 1810-1870
1996-Romance and Chivalry: History and Literature reflected in Early Nineteenth Century French Painting.
Hardback book. 300 pages, fully illustrated with 90 colour plates and 100 black and white illustrations. Introduction (40 pages) by Guy Stair Sainty, twelve essays, catalogue, appendix of salons 1801-24 and bibliography. £50 or $80 inc. p.& p.

(Click on image above)
Price band
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