A Midsummer Night's Dream

George Cruikshank (1792-1878), A Midsummer Night’s Dream, no date [ca. 1845]. Oil on board. C022 Cruikshank Collection

George Cruikshank (1792-1878) is perhaps best known for his illustrations of Charles Dickens’ novels, Sketches by Boz (1836) and Oliver Twist (1838) in particular. During the 1840s, Cruikshank’s relationship with Dickens went sour and he moved to other projects of his own creation. These include George Cruikshank’s Omnibus (1841) and George Cruikshank’s Table Book (1845), as well as his Comic Almanack (1835-53).

During this period, we believe he was also working out the illustrations to Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Princeton holds several sketches and a finished oil painting of Act III, scene I between Bottom and Titania. Please note that we have digitally removed some of the varnish to make the image easier to see.


George Cruikshank (1792-1878), A Midsummer Night’s Dream: Bottom the Weaver and Titania, no date. Watercolor with heavy varnishing. GC022 Cruikshank Collection.


George Cruikshank (1792-1878), A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Act III, Sc. I: O monstrous! O strange! We are haunted. Pray, masters! Fly, masters! Help!, no date [ca. 1845]. Watercolor on paper. GC022 Cruikshank Collection

Out of this wood do not desire to go:
Thou shalt remain here, whether thou wilt or no.
I am a spirit of no common rate;
The summer still doth tend upon my state;
And I do love thee: therefore, go with me;
I’ll give thee fairies to attend on thee,
And they shall fetch thee jewels from the deep,
And sing while thou on pressed flowers dost sleep;
And I will purge thy mortal grossness so
That thou shalt like an airy spirit go.
Peaseblossom! Cobweb! Moth! and Mustardseed!