George John Pinwell

Shadow and Substance, engraved by the Dalziel Brothers

published 1867

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In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
George John Pinwell 1842–1875
Wood engraving on paper
Image: 159 × 127 mm
Presented by Gilbert Dalziel 1924

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This is one of eighteen designs Pinwell made for a book of verse called Wayside Posies. The haunting image shows a woman staring at her reflection in a pond. Beside her sit two women whose skirts seem to have been absorbed by the landscape. All three women appear displaced from everyday time and place, their faces downcast.

The anonymous poem Shadow and Substance which accompanies this design is narrated by a suitor who, if his passion is rejected by ‘Nell’, threatens to commit ‘sweet slaughter’ by drowning himself while ‘embracing her shade in the water’ where she fishes.

Gallery label, November 2004

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