National Gallery of Art Custom Prints

Edwin Austin Abbey

Who Is Sylvia? What Is She, That All the Swains Commend Her?, 1896-1899

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Mark Rothko: Paintings on Paper
Rothko is renowned for his towering abstract paintings on canvas, but few people know that he also created nearly 1,000 paintings on paper over the course of his career.
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About the Artwork

Fascination with the life and times of William Shakespeare abounded in the Victorian world, especially in London, where American artist Edwin Austin Abbey settled permanently in 1883. The Bard's writings provided lifelong inspiration for Abbey: as a teenage writer, he used a pen name from Hamlet; from the age of 20 he illustrated hundreds of Shakespearean subjects for magazines; and in the 1890s he painted seven large Shakespearean scenes, including this canvas, which he exhibited at London's Royal Academy.

The theme of this painting is drawn from Shakespeare's Two Gentlemen of Verona. The title "Who is Sylvia? What Is She, That All the Swains Commend Her?" is the opening question in a song composed by Proteus, one of the many suitors (or swains) of Sylvia, the Duke of Milan's stunning daughter. All heads turn toward the regal beauty as she lifts the skirts of her Italian Renaissance-style gown while descending a brilliantly carpeted staircase. Each admirer gazes at her and reaches to play an instrument or to offer her a love token. The figure at far left presents a luxurious feather fan; the next man a small dog; and the figure leaning against the column bows in devotion, holding his hat in one hand and a book of poetry in the other.

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About Our Prints

National Gallery of Art Custom Prints is your exclusive source for custom reproductions authorized and available for purchase directly from the National Gallery of Art. All items that are offered are produced using gallery-quality materials and the color is managed in a manner that produces a reproduction as true to the original as modern technology will allow.
Many of the works offered through this store are exclusive and not available anywhere else. In addition, new works are continually added to the offering, so come back often to see our new releases.
You have found the work that speaks to you. Now what? Using our innovative custom framing tool you can preview exactly what your finished and framed art will look like. We offer many different moulding styles so there is sure to be a match for any type of decor.

Member Discounts

Circle Members will receive a 20% discount for all Custom Prints orders processed through our kiosk or website. During the checkout process, enter the coupon code you received from the membership office and your discount will be applied.