© President and Fellows of Harvard College
Gallery Text

In 1893, Beardsley was commissioned to illustrate Oscar Wilde’s play Salome. The drawings constitute an extraordinary achievement in design, both in their adaptation of Japanese prints and in their own definition of the precepts of art nouveau. The biblical story of Salome, the ultimate femme fatale, enjoyed a resurgence in late 19th-century art and literature. Salome performed a lascivious dance for her stepfather, King Herod, prompting him to grant her a wish. The young seductress demanded the head of John the Baptist, who had earlier rebuffed her advances.

Here, the severed head is presented on a shield raised by the executioner’s arm, which emerges from the cistern in which John was imprisoned. In Wilde’s play, Salome addresses the head: “I will kiss [thy mouth] now. I will bite it with my teeth as one bites a ripe fruit.” The themes of death, sexuality, and ingestion are intermingled; Salome and John’s open mouths echo each other, while Salome grasps John’s hair and trails her fingers in his blood.

Identification and Creation
Object Number
1943.652
People
Aubrey Vincent Beardsley, British (Brighton, England 1872 - 1898 Menton, France)
Title
The Dancer's Reward
Other Titles
Series/Book Title: Salome
Classification
Drawings
Work Type
drawing
Date
1893
Culture
British
Physical Descriptions
Medium
Black ink and graphite on white wove paper
Dimensions
23 x 16.5 cm (9 1/16 x 6 1/2 in.)
Inscriptions and Marks
  • Signed: l.l: decorated version of the Japanese monogram
Provenance
John Lane, London; his widow, Annie Lane; their sale, Anderson Galleries, New York, November 22, 1926, no. 46i; purchased at that sale by Scott and Fowles, New York; acquired from them by Grenville L. Winthrop, November 23, 1926 ($1,100); his bequest to the Fogg Art Museum, 1943.
State, Edition, Standard Reference Number
Standard Reference Number
Zatlin 873
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Bequest of Grenville L. Winthrop
Accession Year
1943
Object Number
1943.652
Division
European and American Art
Contact
am_europeanamerican@harvard.edu
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Publication History

Aubrey Vincent Beardsley and Aymer Vallance, A Book of Fifty Drawings, L. Smithers (London, 1897), pg. 207, no. 22, repr.

Aubrey Vincent Beardsley and Henry Currie Marillier, The Early Work of Aubrey Beardsley, John Lane (London, 1899), no. 36, repr.

Joseph Pennell, Catalogue of an Exhibition of Original Drawings by Aubrey Beardsley, exh. cat., Brooklyn Museum (Brooklyn, NY, 1923), no. 30

Blake to Beardsley: A Century of English Illustrators, exh. cat., Fogg Art Museum (Cambridge, MA, 1944), no. 3

Albert E. Gallatin, Aubrey Beardsley: Catalogue of Drawings and Bibliography, The Grolier Club (New York, NY, 1945), no. 887

Brian Reade, Aubrey Beardsley, Viking Press (New York, 1967), no. 282, repr.

Dorothy W. Gillerman, ed., Grenville L. Winthrop: Retrospective for a Collector, exh. cat., Fogg Art Museum (Cambridge, 1969), p. 244

Donald Thomas, The Marquis de Sade, New York Graphic Society (Boston, MA, 1976), repr. p. 177

Kenneth Clark, The Best of Aubrey Beardsley, J. Murray (London, 1979), no. 22, repr.

A.M. Hammacher, Phantoms of the Imagination: Fantasy in Art and Literature from Blake to Dali, Harry N. Abrams, Inc. (New York, NY, 1981), fig. 95, p. 112

Simon Wilson, Beardsley (revised edition), Phaidon Books (Oxford, 1983), no. 21, repr.

Linda Gertner Zatlin, Aubrey Beardsley and Victorian Sexual Politics, The Clarendon Press (Oxford, England, 1990), p. 94, fig. 50, repr.

Jeffrey Wallen, "Illustrating Salome: Perverting the Text?", Word and Image (April 1992 - June 1992), vol. 8, no. 2, repr. fig. 7

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. 48-8, 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 (New York, 2003), cat. no. 140, repr. (color)

Christopher Riopelle, Harvard's Winthrop Collection: Nineteenth-Century Paintings and Drawings from the Grenville L. Winthrop Collection, exh. cat., National Gallery Company Limited (London, 2003), p. 23, cat. 10, ill.

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. 140, repr.

Steven Ledbetter, "Richard Strauss: 'Salome,' Opera in one act, Opus 54", Boston Symphony Orchestra (Boston, 2014), pp. 29-37, repr. p. 31

Linda Gertner Zatlin, Aubrey Beardsley: A Catalogue Raisonné, Yale University Press (New Haven and London, 2016), vol. 2, no. 873, pp. 11, 18, 21, 38-40, 42, 110, repr. p. 39, detail repr. p. 2

Carey Dunne, Flowers of Evil and the Macabre Literary Imagination of Symbolism, Hyperalleric (July 4, 2016), [e-journal], http://hyperallergic.com/305877/flowers-of-evil-and-the-macabre-literary-imagination-of-symbolism/, accessed January 9, 2017

Franklin Einspruch, Fuse Visual Art Review: A Pair of Drawing Shows at the Harvard Art Museums, The Arts Fuse ([e-journal], June 9, 2016), http://artsfuse.org/146319/fuse-visual-arts-review-a-pair-of-drawing-shows-at-the-harvard-art-museums/, accessed June 9, 2016

Exhibition History

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

Secession VIII Kunstausstellung: Zeichnende Kunst, [Unknown venue, Berlin], 12/01/1903 - 01/31/1904

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

Exhibition of Drawings by Aubrey Beardsley, Baillie Gallery, London, 08/01/1909 - 09/30/1909

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

Blake to Beardsley: A Century of English Illustrators, Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, 06/01/1944 - 06/30/1944

The Age of Romanticism, Busch-Reisinger Museum, Cambridge, 03/15/1986 - 05/18/1986

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

Flowers of Evil: Symbolist Drawings, 1870–1910, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 05/21/2016 - 08/14/2016

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