The Casket Scene from “The Merchant of Venice” (Opening of the Casket)


Washington Allston (American 1779–1843)


about 1807


Oil on canvas


19 13/16 x 24 in. (50.4 x 60.9 cm)


Illustrates Act III, Scene II from Shakespeare’s “Merchant of Venice.” An interior scene, classicizing architecture, table at left, large urn on floor at right, views to building and landscape through two large arched openings in background; Nine figures, left to right: young male enters from left with casket (small box), male figure (Bassanio) in tunic with feather cap rests hand on table, in profile facing viewer’s right; male behind and next to him, frontal position; standing female making surprised gesture; behind and to her left, male figure glancing back over shoulder; foregrounded seated female figure (Portia) facing to viewer’s left; three figures in background at right engaged in conversation with one another.

Credit Line

Bequest of John E. Allston, nephew of the artist, 1877

Object Number