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  • image P152

Henry Howard (1769 - 1847)

The contention of Oberon and Titania for the Indian Boy (Midsummer Night's Dream Act II)


Oil on canvas

Height: 104cm, maximum
Width: 144.8cm

Museum number: P152

Curatorial note

The small bust of Henry Howard, RA (BR21), over the fireplace in the Breakfast Room, is placed so that it looks towards his own painting on the south wall, which depicts the quarrel concerning the 'little changeling boy' in Shakespeare's A Midsummer Nights Dream (Act II, Scene I). The painting was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1832 when it must have been seen by Soane, who purchased it for £250 in November of the same year. He later commissioned the ceiling paintings in the Library-Dining Room from Howard (see P1, P2 and P3), who dined regularly at 13 Lincoln's Inn Fields, both as a friend and also to help Soane arrange his painting collection and discuss the presentation of the architecture lectures. Soane and Howard were colleagues at the Royal Academy and when Soane's failing eyesight prevented him from delivering his lectures towards the end of his life, it was Henry Howard who read them for him.

Provenance help-art-provenance

Exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1832, (no. 159). Soane's Office Day Book records a payment on 1 November 1832 of £250 for 'picture Oberon'. He probably bought the painting from the RA exhibition of that year, as stated by the artist's son Frank Howard in his Memoir of his father.


Soane, Description,1835, p.49
Howard, F. (ed.) A course of lectures on painting ...by Henry Howard, Edited with a memoir of the author by Frank Howard, London 1848, p.lxxiv
Thornton and Dorey, Miscellany, 1992, p.124
New Description, 2007, p.72, fig. 45

Exhibition history

Royal Academy of Arts, London, 1832

If you have any further information about this object, please contact us: worksofart@soane.org.uk