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William Young Ottley, 1771–1836
formerly attributed to John Brown, 1749–1787
Prospero Summoning Ariel
Additional Title(s):

Prospero, Ariel and Miranda

Prospero, The Magician
Part Of:

Collective Title: The Tempest

ca. 1800
Materials & Techniques:
Watercolor, graphite, gouache, white chalk, and pen and black ink on medium, slightly textured, white wove paper
Sheet: 12 7/16 x 8 1/8 inches (31.6 x 20.7 cm)

Signed in graphite lower right in monogram: "WB"; not dated

Credit Line:
Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection
Copyright Status:
Public Domain
Accession Number:
Drawings & Watercolors
Prints and Drawings
Subject Terms:
cape | cave | flying | literary theme | magic | magician | man | plays by William Shakespeare | robe | spirit | staff | The Tempest, play by William Shakespeare | woman
Associated People:
Shakespeare, William (1564–1616), playwright and poet
Prospero (character in The Tempest)
Ariel (character in The Tempest)
Miranda (character in The Tempest)
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IIIF Manifest:

A student of John Brown (cat. 58) and a friend of John Flaxman (cats.. 34-5), Ottley was a connoisseur, collector, writer on art, and an amateur draftsman of distinction. He studied with Brown at the Royal Academy shortly before Brown's death in 1787, at which time he acquired the contents of the artists studio, including 219 drawings that formed the basis for Ottley's distinguished collection of Old Master Drawings. During an extended period of study in Italy from 1791 to 1799, he added groups of drawings by Parmigianino, Raphael, and Michelangelo to his collection.
This drawing of a scene from the first act of Shakespeare's The Tempest, with its figure of Prospero clearly recalling Michelangelo's figure of Christ in the Sistine Chapel Last Judgment, probably dates from shortly after Ottley's return to London. It is almost certainly one of the group of drawings illustrating The Tempest included in the sale of Ottley's works in 1838. Other Tempest drawings by Ottley are in the British Museum and the Stanford University Museum of Art. That most of these drawings have traditionally been attributed to either John Brown (as is the case with Prospero Summoning Ariel) or John Flaxman is indicative of Both Ottley's stylistic indebtedness to his mentor and his friend but also of the assured quality of his draftsmanship.

Scott Wilcox

Wilcox, Forrester, O'Neil, Sloan. The Line of Beauty: British Drawings and Watercolors of the Eighteenth Century. Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, 2001. pg. 54 cat. no. 42

The Line of Beauty : British Drawings and Watercolors of the Eighteenth Century (Yale Center for British Art, 2001-05-19 - 2001-08-05) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition] [Exhibition Description]

Shakespeare and British Art (Yale Center for British Art, 1981-04-23 - 1981-07-05) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition]

The Fuseli Circle in Rome - Early Romantic Art in the 1770s (Yale Center for British Art, 1979-09-12 - 1979-11-11) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition]

Geoffrey Ashton, Shakespeare and British Art, Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, 1981, pp. 38, 104, no. 98, PR2933 Y25 A74 c.1 (YCBA) [YCBA]

Nancy L. Pressly, The Fuseli circle in Rome : Early Romantic art of the 1770s, Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, 1979, p. 144, no. 146, N6425 .N4 P73 (YCBA) [YCBA]

Sotheby's sale catalogue : catalogue of the drawings and designs by the late William Young Ottley, Esq. F.A.S. : 10 May 1838, Sotheby's, London, 1838, p. 3, lot 14, Art Sales Catalogues Online [ORBIS]

Scott Wilcox, Line of beauty : British drawings and watercolors of the eighteenth century, , Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, CT, 2001, pp. 54-5, no. 42, NC228 W53 2001 (YCBA) [YCBA]

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