Othello and Desdemona in Venice by Théodore Chassériau

Othello and Desdemona in Venice by Théodore Chassériau
Othello and Desdemona in Venice by Théodore Chassériau

Some of the plays written by English playwright William Skakespeare have transcended the field of literature. They have become universal symbols and of course Shakespeare have inspired other subsequent artists, and from the most diverse artistic disciplines, not only writers or set designers, they are also cultural references for musical compositions, films movies, operas, sculptures and of course paintings. Here we have a fabulous example with this painting by the French painter Théodore Chassériau.


Othello and Desdemona in Venice byThéodore Chassériau

The play introduces us to the great protagonist of the play Othello. That is, Othello himself and his wife Desdemona. And he places both of them in one of the passages of the plot in Venice, the original city of this character of Islamic origin who will be consumed by jealousy to such an extent that they will undermine the love relationship and everything will end in an irremediable tragedy.

The elements could not be more appropriate to the style of Chassériau, an eminent court painter romantic. That is why the atmosphere of exoticism is truly enhanced in the work. Something that we can also see in other of his canvases, such as his famous The Headdress

At the same time as the artists of Romanticism, searching for new sources of inspiration, they turned to numerousoccasions towards literature, and with special attention to works where everything had some tragic and exaggerated overtones. A stream in which this painter felt like a fish in water.

But when speaking of Chassériau, it is not only necessary to mention his thematic tastes. It is necessary to speak of the extraordinary pictorial conditions of him. Member of a family well situated politically and economically, as a child he already showed all his potential. And soon he entered as a student of the greatIngres, who came to consider him his best disciple, since he possessed a prodigious ability for drawing.

However, he later completed this apprenticeship with an approach to the great romantic painter: Delacroix. From whom he learned everything that differentiated him so much from Ingres, that is, his ability for color and giving it all the prominence in his compositions.

Without a doubt, Chassériau soaked up the flavor of both geniuses, and somehow tried to bring together the best of both. An endeavor that in itself was complex, contradictory and almost impossible. Hence, he will finally opt for a less classicist and more romantic position. Something that also multiplied with his first trip to Algeria, then French territory. And it is that that immersion in the oriental has accompanied him all his life, which in itself was already somewhat exotic, since he had been born in Dominican Republic, in 1819, during a stay from his diplomat father in the Caribbean, where he married a we althy local. In fact, the painter had in his miscegenation something ofexotic. And that same spirit kept him in many of his works, especially in the last ones, like this one ofOthello and Desdemona in Venicethat he made in the same year of his death, 1856.

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