O Mistress Mine, where are you roaming?
The American artist Abbey spent most of his later life in England. The painting’s title is the first line of the love song recited by the Clown in Shakespeare’s play 'Twelfth Night' in Act 2, Scene 3. The lover pleads with his mistress to come to him while they are still young and to disregard the consequences. Abbey imagines the circumstances in which the song might once have been sung. He creates vaguely Italian, but very romantic 16th century costumes and background. The painting was well received when it was first displayed by the artist at the Royal Academy, London, in 1899. One critic remarked: 'Mr Abbey's 'O Mistress Mine, where are you roaming?' is perhaps finer than anything he has done in respect to expression - the wistful yearning of the girl's face is masterly in its pathetic realisation but the composition is not so graceful as a good deal he has done.'