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Aubrey Beardsley, The Toilet of Salome, a design in pen and ink


Height: 227.000 mm
Width: 162.000 mm

Presented by the National Art Collections Fund in memory of Robert Ross

PD 1919-4-12-1

Prints and Drawings

    Aubrey Beardsley, The Toilet of Salome, a design in pen and ink

    AD 1894

    An illustration for a notorious play

    This is a design for an illustration to the English edition of Oscar Wilde's notorious play Salome which was written in French and then translated into English by his friend Lord Alfred Douglas ('Bosie'). It caused a scandal. In 1895, Oscar Wilde was convicted of ‘gross indecency' after a famous court battle with Douglas' father, the Marquess of Queensberry. Beardsley, associated with Wilde because of these illustrations, was sacked as Art Editor of The Yellow Book, and was obliged to flee temporarily to France.

    Beardsley's style is epitomized in the sparse but elegant economy of line, and the delicacy of detail. The lazy fall of Salome's cape and the disturbing perspective together create a sensuous atmosphere.

    The bookshelf offers a library of required reading for the decadent aesthete, including Zola's Nana, Verlaine's Les Fêtes galantes, Apuleius' The Golden Ass, and an unnamed work by the Marquis de Sade.

    S. Calloway, Aubrey Beardsley-1 (London, V&A Publications, 1998)

    L.G. Zatlin, Aubrey Beardsley and Victorian (Oxford, Clarendon, 1990)

    J. Rowlands, Master drawings and watercolou (London, The British Museum Press, 1984)


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