Image showing Ariel from Shakespeare's The Tempest


This gorgeous picture is of the spirit Ariel - the eyes and ears of the magician Prospero - both characters in a play by Shakespeare called The Tempest. Ariel is a great character - as a spirit he or she (or it!) can be played by male or female actors and portrayed in a number of different ways, sometimes flowery, sometimes feisty. Ariel was rescued by Prospero after being trapped inside a tree by a witch and spends the play doing Prospero's bidding and foiling the plots of other characters.

The picture comes from the Forrest Collection of scrapbooks where we have two different hand coloured versions of the same image by brothers Albert and Harry Forrest, 11 July 1868. It was common practice in Victorian times for children to colour scrapbooks. Many people also collected things like books, photographs or games and many of these collections have ended up in museums or libraries.

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