after Sir Joshua Reynolds

Puck or Robin Goodfellow

In Tate Britain

Artist
After Sir Joshua Reynolds 1723–1792
Medium
Oil paint on canvas
Dimensions
Support: 368 × 298 mm
frame: 576 × 522 × 78 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Purchased 1942
Reference
N05384

Display caption

Puck is a household fairy and prankster. In A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Shakespeare casts him as the servant of Oberon, king of the fairies. This is a study for Joshua Reynolds’s painting for the Shakespeare Gallery, which also published luxurious illustrated editions of Shakespeare’s plays. Reynolds imagined Puck sitting on a toadstool. He has pointed ears, like ancient Greek images of Pan, the mischievous classical god of the woods. Pointed ears became a common feature in depictions of fairies.

Gallery label, October 2020

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