After Thomas Duncan (Scottish 1807-1845) Anne Page Inviting Slender to Dinner (from Shakespeare’s ‘Merry Wives of Windsor’). 19th century oil on canvas. Unsigned. 53in x 41in (135cm x 104cm) Unframed.
CONDITION: Lined. Retouching to the background above where the two gentlemen are leaning out of the window also in the lady’s hair, light craquelure throughout
This took us quite a while to track down. We strongly suspected it was a theatrical scene and working out what the scene most likely was led us to Duncan’s painting in the collection of the National Gallery of Scotland. The gallery’s website gives this interpretation: “Anne Page is an eligible bride whom Slender has been persuaded to court by his cousin Shallow, although Slender is not in fact particularly interested in marrying her. Here, Anne dutifully invites Slender to join their group and dine on venison pie, but the shy and uncouth Slender tries to evade the awkward invitation. Duncan has twisted Slender’s figure, capturing his awkwardness and lack of sophistication compared to the charming relaxed figure of Anne. Her loyal dog, ignoring the huge pie behind him, senses Slender’s indifference towards his mistress, and blocks his passage into the house.” The original was the first of Duncan’s paintings to be exhibited at the Royal Academy in London.
This is not a slavish exact copy. Here, the gossiping chaps in the background are given greater prominence and there are also differences with the boy with the pie and the dog. The artist has incorporated elements of her or his own interpretation while still keeping faith with the original. The original was painted in 1836 and we see no reason to suppose this was painted much later.
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