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Henry Nelson O'Neil, A.R.A (1817-1880)
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Henry Nelson O'Neil, A.R.A (1817-1880)

Rosalind - As You Like It

Henry Nelson O'Neil, A.R.A (1817-1880) Rosalind - As You Like It
signed and dated 'H.O'NEIL. 1856.' (lower left), and signed and inscribed 'ROSALIND - AS YOU LIKE IT HENRY O'NEIL 6 FAIRWAY ROAD BAYSWATER LONDON' (on the reverse)

oil on panel
20½ x 16 in. (52 x 41 cm.)
Art Journal, 1856, p. 84.
London, British Institution, 1856, no. 352.
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Lot Essay

This painting, which is O'Neil's British Institution exhibit of 1856, may also be a finished study of one of the protagonists in his Academy exhibit of the same year entitled Rosalind and Celia - As You Like It, act iii, scene 2.

Shakespeare's play tells the story of the cousins Rosalind and Celia, the former the daughter of the Duke, the latter the daughter of his brother Frederick who ousts him. Rosalind falls in love with Orlando, whose father Sir Rowland de Boys was a friend of the exiled Duke. On hearing this Frederick banishes them, and they take refuge in the forest of Arden, Rosalind disguised as the countryman Ganymede (as seen here) and Celia as his sister Aliena, a shepherdess. The story, which involves many incidental characters such as the jester Touchstone, eventually resolves happily, with the wedding of Orlando and Rosalind, and Oliver his brother and Celia, and the restoration of the Duke to his Dukedom.

Such Shakespearean subjects were treated by many of the Pre-Raphaelites and their contemporaries, although it was a rare departure for O'Neil, who two years later was to exhibit his masterwork Eastward Ho! August 1857!, (private collection), followed by Home Again, 1858 (Christie's London, 14 June 2000, lot 18, £500,000), in 1859.


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