© President and Fellows of Harvard College
Identification and Creation
Object Number
Aubrey Vincent Beardsley, British (Brighton, England 1872 - 1898 Menton, France)
The Peacock Skirt
Other Titles
Series/Book Title: Salome
Work Type
Physical Descriptions
Black ink and graphite on white wove paper
23 x 16.8 cm (9 1/16 x 6 5/8 in.)
John Lane, London, by descent; to Annie Lane (his widow), sold [through thier sale, Anderson Galleries, New York, November 22, 1926, no. 46d]; to [Scott & Fowles, New York], sold; to Grenville L. Winthrop, New York, NY, May 6, 1927, bequest; to Fogg Art Museum, 1943.
State, Edition, Standard Reference Number
Standard Reference Number
Zatlin 866
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Bequest of Grenville L. Winthrop
Accession Year
Object Number
European and American Art
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Label Text: 32Q: 2100 19th Century , written 2017-07-21
Illustration and Art Nouveau

Aubrey Beardsley’s creative output consisted almost entirely of drawings, mainly for illustration. His brilliant and singular style stretched the limits of illustration, pushing the medium toward the abstract curvilinear design principles of art nouveau. His designs were reproduced using the recently refined line-block process, a direct transfer in which the drawings were photographed and the negatives exposed onto a light-sensitive printing plate. Beardsley’s masterful use of pen and rich black ink can be seen in the two original drawings exhibited here. Perhaps the artist’s most celebrated design, The Peacock Skirt is one of ten drawings in the museums’ collections for Oscar Wilde’s notorious play Salome. Ali Baba, which Beardsley referred to as a “sumptuous design,” was intended for the cover of Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves, a tale that was never published.

[1943.649, 1943.647]

Publication History

Aubrey Vincent Beardsley and Aymer Vallance, A Book of Fifty Drawings, L. Smithers (London, 1897), pg. 207, no. 21, repr.

Robert Ross and Aymer Vallance, Aubrey Beardsley, John Lane, The Bodley Head (London, England, 1909), no. 88.II

Joseph Pennell, Catalogue of an Exhibition of Original Drawings by Aubrey Beardsley, exh. cat., Brooklyn Museum (Brooklyn, NY, 1923), no. 25

Albert E. Gallatin, Aubrey Beardsley: Catalogue of Drawings and Bibliography, The Grolier Club (New York, NY, 1945), no. 880

Brian Reade, Aubrey Beardsley, Viking Press (New York, 1967), no. 277, repr.

Kenneth Clark, The Best of Aubrey Beardsley, J. Murray (London, 1979), no. 18, repr.

Daniel M. Mendelowitz and Duane A. Wakeham, Mendelowitz's Guide to Drawing, Holt, Rinehart & Winston (New York, NY, 1982)

Kristin A. Mortimer and William G. Klingelhofer, Harvard University Art Museums: A Guide to the Collections, Harvard University Art Museums and Abbeville Press (Cambridge and New York, 1986), no. 296, p. 253, repr.

Linda Gertner Zatlin, Aubrey Beardsley and Victorian Sexual Politics, The Clarendon Press (Oxford, England, 1990), p. 119, fig. 74

Chris Snodgrass, Aubrey Beardsley: Dandy of the Grotesque, Oxford University Press (NY) and Oxford University Press (UK) (New York, NY and Oxford, England, 1995), fig. 2-23, pp. 86-92

Magdalena Dabrowski and Leah Dickerman, Aleksandr Rodchenko, exh. cat., Museum of Modern Art, New York (New York, NY, 1998), p. 20, fig. 2

Linda Merrill, The Peacock Room: A Cultural Biography, Freer Gallery of Art / Yale University Press (New Haven, CT, 1998), pp. 311-312, repr. fig. 7.11

Mark Samuels Lasner, "The Pursuit of the Rare: Three Early Beardsley Collectors", Gazette of the Grolier Club (2000), no. 51, p. 17, note 34

Chikashi Kitazaki and Mina Oya, ed., Between Reality and Dreams: Nineteenth Century British and French Art from the Winthrop Collection of the Fogg Art Museum, exh. cat., National Museum of Western Art (Ueno, 2002), cat. no. 48-4, repr. (color)

Stephan Wolohojian, ed., A Private Passion: 19th-Century Paintings and Drawings from the Grenville L. Winthrop Collection, Harvard University, exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art and Yale University Press (U.S.) (New York, 2003), cat. no. 139, repr. (color)

Stephan Wolohojian, Ingres, Burne-Jones, Whistler, Renoir... La Collection Grenville L. Winthrop, exh. cat., Musée des Beaux-Arts de Lyon and Réunion des Musées Nationaux (Paris, France, 2003), no. 139, repr.

Daniel M. Mendelowitz, David L. Faber, and Duane A. Wakeham, A Guide to Drawing, Thomson Wadsworth (Belmont, CA, 2007), fig. 6-14, p. 108

Linda Gertner Zatlin, Aubrey Beardsley: A Catalogue Raisonné, Yale University Press (U.S.) (New Haven and London, 2016), vol. 1, p. 141, vol. 2, no. 866, pp. 10, 11, 19-23, 28, 47, 171, repr. p. 22

Exhibition History

Première salon de La Libre Esthétique, National Gallery, Brussels, 02/17/1894 - 03/15/1894

A Selection of Drawings by Aubrey Beardsley, Carfax and Co., London, 10/01/1904 - 10/31/1904

Aubrey Beardsley, 1872-1898, Galeries Shirley, Paris, 02/01/1907 - 02/28/1907

International Fine Arts Exhibition: British Section, British Fine Art Palace, Rome, 04/01/1911 - 10/31/1911

British Section of the International Exhibition of Book Industry and Graphic Arts: Illustration for Books, Internationale Ausstellung für Buchgewerbe und Graphic, Leipzig, 01/01/1914

An Exhibition of Original Drawings by Aubrey Beardsley, Brooklyn Museum, 12/19/1923 - 01/31/1924; Milwaukee Art Institute, 10/01/1924 - 10/30/1924; Cincinnati Art Museum, Cincinnati, 11/01/1924 - 11/30/1924; Memorial Art Gallery, University of Rochester, Rochester, 11/29/1924 - 12/31/1924

Portrait, Prospect and Poetry: British Drawings from the Grenville L. Winthrop Bequest, Harvard University Art Museums, Cambridge, 09/11/1993 - 11/07/1993

Between Reality and Dreams: Nineteenth Century British and French Art from the Winthrop Collection of the Fogg Art Museum, National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo, 09/14/2002 - 12/08/2002

A Private Passion: 19th-Century Paintings and Drawings from the Grenville L. Winthrop Collection, Harvard University, Musée des Beaux-Arts de Lyon, Lyon, 03/15/2003 - 05/26/2003; National Gallery, London, 06/25/2003 - 09/14/2003; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 10/23/2003 - 01/25/2004

32Q: 2100 19th Century, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 11/10/2015 - 11/16/2016

This record has been reviewed by the curatorial staff but may be incomplete. Our records are frequently revised and enhanced. For more information please contact the Division of European and American Art at am_europeanamerican@harvard.edu