The work depicts Act I, Scene ii from Shakespeare's 'The Tempest', and is the first known painting of any scene from Shakespeare.

One of Hogarth's many pioneering roles was as a painter of the theatre. It is presented as a history painting, with the Baroque effect of Ariel playing a mandolin in the clouds and a Caliban misshapen beyond the powers of make-up. It cannot, on the grounds of style, have been too remote in time from the huge Pool of Bethesda, which Hogarth painted for the staircase of St Bartholomew's Hospital (in 1735-6) free of charge in the hope that it would encourage the commissioning of history paintings from native artists, instead of such foreign rivals as Jacopo Amigoni.


Dorothy Nesbitt, Dowager Countess of Macclesfield; Sir Roland Winn, 5th Bart. and kept at Nostell Priory as part of his collection.

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