Monvoisin, Pierre-Raymond-Jacques

Bordeaux 1790 - Boulogne-sur-Seine 1870
Biography & List of works

Othello and Desdemona

Othello and Desdemona

Medium: Oil On Canvas

Size: 27.3 x 21.7 cm

Signed: (I.I.) Monvoisin


Cailleax Salone, Paris, 1990; New York, Private Collection.

In Monvoisin’s interpretation of the tense relationship between the Moor and his unfortunate wife (cat. 41 fig. 107), the beautiful but distraught figure of Desdemona languidly lifts her arm in protest at the unjust accusations of Othello. Monvoisin has chosen a moment (Act IV, scene 2) when after ignoring Desdemona’s claims of fidelity Othello sarcastically replies “I cry you mercy then. I took you for that cunning whore of Venice / That married with Othello. You, mistress, / That have the office opposite to Saint Peter and keeps the gates of hell” – at which Emily (who can be seen behind) enters and Othello continues, giving Desdemona money (which he indicates here lying on the table) – “There’s money for your pains. / I pray you, turn the key and keep your counsel”.