The Nation's Premier Antiques Center

Art Inspired By Art: A Midsummer Night’s Dream Centerpiece

midsummer-nights-dream
Titania and Nick Bottom, A Midsummer Night's Dream

Titania adoring Nick Bottom in Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”

The history of Western art is one long homage. From Dali and Wagner to Jeff Koons and well, Jeff Koons, our new series Art Inspired By Art profiles our dealers’ pieces based on other artworks. In this post, we look at this very unusual antique Mappin & Webb silver centerpiece bowl inspired by, of all things, Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”

Mappin and Webb Midsummer Nights Dream sterling silver centerpiece

Large sterling silver Mappin and Webb oval centerpiece bowl with hand-chased scene from Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” 1918. 21″ long x 13-1/2″ high, over 6Kg.Estate Silver [Gallery 65/212.758.4858]

The popularity of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” never wanes. With its lush, enchanted setting and impossible tangle of lovers, the comedy begs to be interpreted and every branch of art has done so–the New York City Ballet is staging Balanchine’s famed version right now. Of all the play’s moving parts, nothing captures artists’ imaginations like Titania and Nick Bottom.

Edwin Landseer, Scene from A Midsummer Night's Dream. Titania and Bottom (1848)

Edwin Landseer, Scene from A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Titania and Bottom (1848). Source: wikipedia.org

In the play, Fairy King Oberon demands his Queen Titania give him one of her vassals. When she refuses, he charges the infamous sprite Puck to punish her by applying a love potion to her sleeping eyelids so she falls in love with the first living being she sees when she awakes. Naturally, the first creature she sees is passing laborer Nick Bottom, whose head Puck transformed to a donkey’s head earlier on a whim.

midsummer-nights-dream-centerpiece-detail

Detail view of the famous scene depicted on the Mappin & Webb centerpiece.

The designer of renowned silver workshop Mappin & Webb no doubt took his cues from the many famous artworks depicting this rich scene. The hand-chased scene shows Titania draped around Bottom, surrounded by her otherworldly attendants in the magical forest landscape. Funnily, the centerpiece shows Bottom looking more pleased with himself than many of the paintings do–as well he might having wandered into this dream.

Titania and Bottom by Johann Heinrich Füssli 1793–94

Titania and Bottom by Johann Heinrich Füssli 1793–94. Source: wikipedia.org

If you’re interested in shopping or learning more about this piece, contact dealer Anthony Mammon of Estate Silver (Gallery 65/212.758.4858) here.