Joseph Mallord William Turner Queen Mab’s Cave exhibited 1846

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Artwork details

Title
Queen Mab’s Cave
Date Exhibited 1846
Medium Oil paint on canvas
Dimensions Support: 921 x 1226 mm
frame: 1070 x 1374 x 70 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
N00548
On display at Tate Britain
Room: 1840

Display caption

Here, Turner found his mythic subject outside classical sources. ‘Queen Mab’ is described in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet as ‘the fairies’ midwife’. She reveals secret hopes in the form of dreams, which she creates by driving her chariot over people as they sleep. Turner referred to A Midsummer Night’s Dream, where Queen Mab is invoked during Titania’s ‘moonlight revels’. He may also have read Shelley’s poem Queen Mab.

This painting was first exhibited in 1846. A reviewer called it ‘a daylight dream in all the wantonness of gorgeous, bright, and positive colour, not painted but apparently flung upon the canvas’.

September 2004

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