1 of 57

Washington Allston
Hermia and Helena
before 1818
oil
30 3/8 x 25 1/4 in.
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Museum purchase through the Smithsonian Institution Collections Acquisition Program and made possible by Ralph Cross Johnson, Catherine W. Myer, the National Institute Gift



Hermia and Helena, heroines in William Shakespeare's Midsummer Night's Dream, were close friends whose friendship was tested when they became rivals in love. Washington Allston underscores their intimate bond by painting them almost as one figure with only one pair of hands and feet visible, and sharing a single book.