Oil on canvas, approximately 10 x 24 inches. The Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery, Birmingham, England.
Like other painters who have illustrated Act IV, Scene ii, of Cymbeline, Smetham dresses Imogen as a girl, but she is still disguised as a boy at this point in the play. Striving for a pastoral feeling and mood in his painting, he also chooses to make Arvigarus and Guiderius shepherds rather than hunters.
Smetham seems to have had in mind the song sung by Arvigarus and Guiderius over the body of Fidele/Imogen. The Yale Center for British Art owns a copy of the same painting, somewhat smaller, that has written on the back in Smetham's hand a portion of a poem written by William Collins in 1744 (Christian 185). Collins's poem "A Song from Shakespeare's Cymbeline" is a reworking of Shakespeare's lament sung by the two brothers. This is the song written by Shakespeare for Act IV, Scene ii:
Fear no more the heat o' the sun,
Nor the furious winter's rages;
Thou thy worldly task hast
Home art gone, and ta'en thy wages:
Golden lads and girls all must,
As chimney-sweepers, come to dust.
Fear no more the frown o' the great;
Thou art past the tyrant's stroke;
Care no more to clothe and eat;
To thee the reed is as the
The sceptre, learning, physic, must
All follow this, and come to dust.
Fear no more the lightning flash,
Nor the all-dreaded thunder-stone;
Fear not slander, censure rash;
Thou hast finish'd joy and moan:
All lovers young, all lovers must
Consign to thee, and come to dust.
No exorciser harm thee!
Nor no witchcraft charm thee!
Ghost unlaid forbear thee!
Nothing ill come near thee!
Quiet consummation have;
And renowned be thy grave!
This is the adaptation by Collins, whose brothers mourn the death of Imogen in a different key.
To fair Fidele's grassy tomb
Soft maids and village hinds shall bring
Each opening sweet of earliest bloom,
And rifle all the breathing spring.
No wailing ghost shall dare appear
To vex with shrieks this quiet grove;
But shepherd lads assemble here,
And melting virgins own their love.
No withered witch shall here be seen,
No goblins lead their nightly crew;
The female fays shall haunt the green,
And dress thy grave with pearly dew.
The redbreast oft at evening hours
Shall kindly lend his little aid,
With hoary moss, and gathered flowers,
To deck the ground where thou art laid.
When howling winds and beating rain
In tempests shake the sylvan cell,
Or midst the chase on every plain,
The tender thought on thee shall dwell.
Each lonely scene shall thee restore,
For thee the tear be duly shed;
Beloved till life could charm no more,
And mourned till Pity's self be dead.
Both poems seem equally to have inspired Smetham to paint Imogen and the Shepherds