Francis Wheatley, Scene from "Twelfth Night," Act III (1771-2)

Oil on canvas, size approximately 39 x 41 inches, Manchester City Art Galleries.

In Act II, Scene iv, of the play, Sir Andrew Aguecheek and "Cesario" (Viola) are to fight a duel, but neither seems really eager for this encounter, egged on primarily by Sir Toby Belch. Just as the duel is to begin, the sea captain Antonio enters and stops the duel thinking Viola is her twin brother, Sebastian. Viola is right when she says in Act II, Scene ii, "Disguise, I see thou art a wickedness / Wherein the pregnant enemy does much." The coda to the tale of the duel is that Sir Andrew is convinced that Cesario is a coward and rushes out to challenge him again at the beginning of Act IV; he has, however, now come upon Viola's brother. Sir Andrew strikes Sebastian and then pays dearly when Sebastian returns his blows with a pummeling.

The painting, owned by the Manchester City Galleries is mounted on the museum's website. The notes to the painting say that Wheatley painted the picture with contemporary eighteenth-century actors as his models: "from left to right; Fabian (Francis Waldron) and Viola (Miss Elizabeth Younge), Sir Andrew Aguecheek (James W Dodd) and Sir Toby Belch (James Dance, also known as Love)." The picture is another interesting example of how artists were influenced by what they saw on the stage.

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