Queen of the Fairies: Portrayals in Contemporary Visual Art of Titania from Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”
By: Angelieh Therese J. del Rio, BA English Studies: Literature
University of the Philippines – Diliman
Disclaimer: All photos are not mine, they belong to their respective owners.
Even in contemporary digital art, Shakespeare is established still as an influence and often referred to as a resource of inspiration by many modern artists. Presented in this short photo gallery are portrayals of Titania from “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” in which contemporary artists illustrate their own personal renditions of the fairy queen. From the pictures below, other elements, concepts and influences utilized by the artists could be identified and perceived which could have arguably made their adaptation of Shakespeare’s Titania more original.
I. Titania and Oberon Artworks
In most portrayals of Titania, she is painted alongside her husband, Oberon, who she quarrels with in the play for the custody of a “changeling”. Interestingly, in many of these artworks, they are chosen to be presented as reconciled, often in a romantic dance or a loving embrace.
1. “Oberon and Titania” by Josephine Wall
This picture takes on more of a romantic fairy-tale feel which could be found in most children’s books. “The King & Queen of fairyland are soaring high with their winged entourage. With the beating of many wings and the heady fragrance of woodland flowers they gather for a moonlit revel” (description from the artist, Josephine Wall).
2. “Oberon and Titania” posted by Erin Henderson (originally “Unforget” by dapper-owl)
Interestingly, in this picture the Oberon and Titania element is only given as an interpretive label by Erin Henderson who posted this picture under the “Shakespeare” tag in Pinterest. The picture was originally entitled as “Unforget” by the artist who has not connoted any inspiration to Shakespeare in this work whatsoever.
3.“King Oberon and Queen Titania” by seawaterwitch
Labelled under digital art and photomanipulation, this artwork is actually a portrayal of the quarrel between Oberon and Titania. “King Oberon conversed with Queen Titania via Magic Mirror! Fairies don’t have mobile phone” (from the artist’s description), the artist utilized modern techniques such as digital manipulation and mashed it with contemporary concepts such as face-to-face chat to create this unique piece.
II. Art featuring Titania and Bottom
More popular than the Oberon and Titania artworks are those which feature the queen of the fairies with the enchanted donkey-faced Bottom. In these pictures, the artists sought to capture the famous scene in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” wherein Titania wakes from her sleep and falls in love with Bottom and his donkey visage.
4. “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” by Jasmine Becket-Griffith
This picture is labelled by the artist as a “fairy art print”. It features Titania and Bottom in a cutesy, child-like illustration. The image of Titania could have been drawn from the “chibi” and “gothic Lolita” trends in Japanese culture because of her cute child-like proportions and in the manner in which her face was painted with innocence but contrasted with the strong expression in her eyes and thick jet black eyeliner.
5. “Oberon X Titania, A Midsummer Night’s Dream” by Hokashi
This painting is another digital made art wherein the artist portrays Titania and Bottom at the foreground of the piece with her wings wrapped around Bottom, who is explicitly drawn as wearing a donkey head piece (and a suit, apparently), while Oberon who seems to be watching them from afar is illustrated in the background. The metallic armor worn by Titania could be inspired by many MMORPG (Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game) armors made for women characters. This art also adds comic value as it shows Bottom’s discomfort with the situation with the artist’s cleverly drawn expression on the ass head.
6.“Out of this wood do not desire to go” by Sycil
What is interesting about this painting is how the artist captured the “enchanted” romance between Titania and Bottom that it almost seems real or legitimate. Bottom is also painted realistically while Titania is painted very strongly but with quite some element of softness as the artist chose the flaming red-orange headdress contrasted with the pink kimono-esque gown.
7. “Queen Titania and Nick Bottom(‘s Head)” by Lamb & Serpent
The artwork speaks for itself in its stark uniqueness and shock factor. “I wanted to portray as closely as possible what I felt fairies were like. Here’s Queen Titania and Nick Bottom(’s head). In my imagination, fairies are innocent and whimsical as well as selfish, remorseless and vengeful. They’re very much like children.” (from the artist’s description of the artwork).
8. “Titania – Night’s Dreamed” by T-G-10
A watercolour artwork framed by swirling branches and leaves which might have been the artist’s illustration of the forest, alongside an image of Bottom carrying Queen Titania whose bodies are painted in quite a Neoplatonic fashion.
9.“Titania – updated” by bluefooted
This image portrays a naked and sleeping TItania brought together with the enchanted and sleeping Bottom along with a hunched creeping Oberon who has orchestrated the affair. The contrast with Oberon and Titania is worth noticing. Titania is painted virginally and very fair in comparison to her dark and scheming husband, Oberon (who in this piece of art looks much like Count Olaf from Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events).
III. “Portraits” of Titania, the Fairy Queen
Many more of the artistic adaptations featuring Shakespeare’s Titania are “portraits” of the queen by herself alone, with each artist craftily illustrating his or her own whimsical, fantastic rendition.
10. “Ill met by moonlight, proud Titania” by susantohelits
This art adaptation takes a more cartoonish rendition of Titania. The queen’s bulbous, flaming red hair is quite reminiscent of the Queen of Hearts/The Red Queen in Tim Burton’s “Alice in Wonderland”.
11. “Oberon’s Wife” by GerryArthur
Another digitally made art although the texture and the blending of the colors are reminiscent of traditional paintings. The picture showcases Titania in an almost realistic manner, although her hair and dress are made of plant-life. The title of the painting also deserves interest as instead of merely labelling it as “Titania”, the artist chose the possessive form of “Oberon’s Wife”.
12. “Proud Titania and poisonous blooms” by BohemianWeasel
“I promise not to let this fairy give you donkey’s ears, or steal any of you away to her flowery love nest. Well I’ll try, she is persistent…Drawn for the Perna Studio’s forthcoming trading card set ‘Spellcasters II’, Titania surrounded by everything lovely and poisonous: wolfsbane/monkshood, foxgloves, hemlock, angel trumpets, castor flowers, belladonna berries, and opium poppies. Much of which was then covered by her wings.” (from the artist’s description).
13. “Queen Titania” by bluefooted
This whimsical artwork features Titania riding a giant moth while wearing a dress seemingly made of butterfly wings as her blue, star-adorned hair flutters in the wind. This artwork is also a participant ConceptArt’s Character of the Week entitled, “Who be the Queen of Fae?” where there are many more Titania-inspired art: http://www.conceptart.org/forums/showthread.php/149508-Chow-146-VOTING-Queen-Titania.
14. “Queen Titania” by Arbetta
This Queen Titania is drawn with beautiful elfin features with the slanted eyes and the pointed ears. Illustrated wearing a fantastic ball gown, this Titania is featured with swirling fairy dusts given off by her small miniature fairies.
15. “Titania” by Katarinea
Interestingly, the artist chose to name her artwork based on the fact that Titania “is often used in fairy tales name for the queen of fairies”. In this picture of a daintily illustrated Titania, queen of the fairies, the immensity of Shakespeare’s influence could be perceived that even without the artist’s knowledge of Shakespeare’s plays or characters, unknowingly this artwork is still an attribution to the Bard and his written works.
From these photo gallery of Shakespeare’s Titania as portrayed in contemporary visual art, knowingly or unknowingly these exemplary artworks continue the tradition of the reverential and inspirational transmediality of William Shakespeare and his body of plays. The originality, uniqueness and creativity of these contemporary artists still shine through as they breathe a new expression of life, by their art, into Shakespeare and his works.
- “Oberon and Titania” by Josephine Wall
Wall, Josephine. “Oberon and Titania.” Tumblr. 2011. Web. October 2015.
- “Oberon and Titania” posted by Erin Henderson (originally “Unforget” by dapper-owl)
Dapper-owl. “Unforget.” Devian Art. 2010. Web. October 2015.
Pinterest post URL: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/474285404482669125/
- “King Oberon and Queen Titania” by seawaterwitch
Seawaterwitch. “King Oberon and Queen Titania.” Deviant Art. 2010. Web. October 2015.
- “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” by Jasmine Becket-Griffith
Becket-Griffith, Jasmine. “A Midsummer Night’s Dream shakespeare titania puck fairy art print.” Etsy.com. n.d. Web. October 2015.
- “Oberon X Titania, A Midsummer Night’s Dream” by Hokashi
Hokashi. “Oberon X Titania, A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” Deviant Art. 2014. Web. October 2015.
- “Out of this wood do not desire to go” by Sycil
Sycil. “Out of this wood do not desire to go.” Deviant Art. 2012. Web. October 2015.
- “Queen Titania and Nick Bottom(‘s Head)” by Lamb & Serpent
Lamb & Serpent. “Queen Titania and Nick Bottom(‘s Head).” Tumblr. 4 Dec 2011. Web. October 2015.
- “Titania – Night’s Dreamed” by T-G-10
T-G-10. “Titania – Night’s Dreamed.” Deviant Art. 2010. Web. October 2015.
- “Titania – updated” by bluefooted
Bluefooted. “Titania-updated.” Deviant Art. 2005. Web. October 2015.
- “Ill met by moonlight, proud Titania” by susantohelits
Susantohelits. “Ill met by moonlight, proud Titania.” Tumblr. 26 July 2015. Web. October 2015.
- “Oberon’s Wife” by GerryArthur
GerryArthur. “Oberon’s Wife.” Deviant Art. 2014. Web. October 2015.
- “Proud Titania and poisonous blooms” by BohemianWeasel
BohemianWeasel. “Proud Titania and poisonous blooms.” Deviant Art. 2015. Web. October 2015.
- “Queen Titania” by bluefooted
Bluefooted. “Queen Titania.” Deviant Art. 2009 Web. October 2015.
- “Queen Titania” by Arbetta
Arbetta. “Queen Titania.” Tumblr. 27 June 2013. Web. October 2015.
- “Titania” by Katarinea
Katarinea. “Titania.” Deviant Art. 2012. Web. October 2015.