|Published||[John Lane, The Bodley Head, London, 1906]|
|Dimensions||Image 225 x 160 mm, Sheet 345 x 270 mm|
A fine lithograph on Japanese vellum of Beardsley's drawing of 'The Climax,' Plate 15 from a series of illustrations the artist produced for Oscar Wilde's Salome. Salome hovers menacingly, her face filled with malice, as she holds the bloody head of John the Baptist in preparation for the infamous kiss. This callous and perverse gesture will so shock Herod Antipas that he shall order her death out of utter disgust, the final brutal chapter in the story's climax. John's blood forms a pool on the floor, from which a lily grows. This plate is from a suite of unbound and separately published illustrations printed on Japanese vellum.
Salome was a Biblical character whose story comprised the theme of Oscar Wilde's most infamous tragedy. Published in English in 1894, the play tells in one act the New Testament story of Salome, stepdaughter of the tetrarch Herod Antipas, who, to her stepfather's dismay but to the delight of her mother Herodias, requests the head of Jokanaan (John the Baptist) on a silver platter as a reward for dancing the dance of the seven veils. This plate is from a suite of unbound and separately published suite of plates printed on Japanese vellum.
Aubrey Beardsley (1872-1898) was one of the most controversial artists of the Belle Epoch, and a defining figure in Art Nouveau, the Decadent Movement, and British Aestheticism. Beardsley was encouraged to take up the artistic life by Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones, and moved to Paris, where he eventually became a central figure in a clique of eccentrics, free-thinkers, and homosexuals that included Oscar Wilde and a number of other British aesthetes. Beardsley's work was heavily influenced by the late nineteenth century French taste for Japanese woodblock, as well as the poster art of Henri Toulouse Lautrec. His first commission was to provide illustrations for an edition of Sir Thomas Malory's Le Morte d'Arthur, and other work, particularly for literary and theatre illustration, soon followed. His best known works are his erotic illustrations for the Lysistrata, and Wilde's Salome, though he was also a frequent contributor to magazines like The Savoy and The Studio. With the American author Henry Harland, he also co-founded the notorious Yellow Book. Apart from his artistic output, Beardsley was also a fascinating public figure and noted eccentric, famous for his sartorial style, including his emblematic yellow gloves, and his public declarations of commitment to the grotesque. He died of tuberculosis at only 25 years of age. Although a deathbed conversion to Roman Catholicism almost resulted in the destruction of his drawings, much of his work was published posthumously by the executors of his estate.
Condition: Superb crisp impression with full margins.