Taming of the Shrew

  • A checkered game board with 64 squares corresponds to the mandala, an image that appears in many cultures and often represents intricate, repeating patterns.
  • The chessboard is the extension of a diagram formed by four squares. Considered as a mandala of Shiva, a popular Hindu deity, it represents the field of action of all the vital forces in the universe that Shiva controls and maintains.
  • In an early Hindu form of the game there were four players – one for each of the four sides of the board.
  • Fate, as well as logic, had its say in the outcome of the game: at some point participants would roll the dice to determine the order of the moves.

In Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking-Glass, Alice finds herself in an alternative world "'marked out just like a large chessboard!' Alice said… 'It's a great huge game of chess that's being played – all over the world…'"

Chess represents a combination of, or the eternal conflict between, good and evil, light and darkness, sense and passion. The very alternation of black and white in the chessboard squares is a symbol of fate bestowing, in turn, gifts and sorrows. This idea finds its way into the painting with horses at loggerheads in the background and knights fighting fiercely in the name of the king in the foreground. Fancy towers with unending tops represent the unlimited power of imagination.