- Gallery Text
In the tales of King Arthur, the knight Tristan and the Irish princess Isolde were bound together by a love potion, with ultimately tragic results. Although Beardsley illustrated Thomas Malory’s Le Morte d’Arthur, a version of the medieval legend first published in the 15th century, the reference in this drawing is more likely to Wagner’s opera Tristan und Isolde, which was performed frequently in the 1890s. Beardsley claimed that he “would do anything and go anywhere . . . to hear Wagner’s music.”
Most of Beardsley’s drawings were made for illustration: Isolde was reproduced as a color lithograph in the periodical The Studio in 1895. The intense crimson of the curtain isolates the figure on a stage—the crux of the plot is here encapsulated in the moment when Isolde prepares to drink from the goblet that contains “the love drink” rather than the poison that she is expecting.
- Identification and Creation
- Object Number
Aubrey Vincent Beardsley, British (Brighton, England 1872 - 1898 Menton, France)
- Work Type
- Physical Descriptions
- Black and gray ink and red and green watercolor on cream wove paper
- 28.6 x 18 cm (11 1/4 x 7 1/16 in.)
- Charles Holme; Scott and Fowles, New York; acquired from them by Grenville L. Winthrop, February 16, 1924 ($1,400); his bequest to the Fogg Art Museum, 1943.
- State, Edition, Standard Reference Number
- Standard Reference Number
- Zatlin 957
- 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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- Publication History
[Reproduction only], "Herkomer School", The Studio, (October 1895)., repr.
Aubrey Vincent Beardsley and Aymer Vallance, A Book of Fifty Drawings, L. Smithers (London, 1897), pg. 205
Aubrey Vincent Beardsley and Henry Currie Marillier, The Early Work of Aubrey Beardsley, John Lane (London, 1899), no. 24, repr.
Robert Ross and Aymer Vallance, Aubrey Beardsley, John Lane, The Bodley Head (London, England, 1909), no. 119
Albert E. Gallatin, Aubrey Beardsley: Catalogue of Drawings and Bibliography, The Grolier Club (New York, NY, 1945), no. 987
Martin Birnbaum, Jacovleff and Other Artists, Paul A. Struck (New York, 1946), pl. 40
Rainforth Armitage Walker, "Aubrey Beardsley", Graphis (1950), 6, no. 31, pg. 251
Brian Reade, Aubrey Beardsley, Viking Press (New York, 1967), pg. 391, repr.
Dorothy W. Gillerman, Gridley McKim-Smith, and Joan R. Mertens, Grenville L. Winthrop: Retrospective for a Collector, exh. cat., Fogg Art Museum (Cambridge, MA, 1969), p. 244
Simon Wilson, Beardsley (revised edition), Phaidon Books (Oxford, 1983), no. 39, repr.
Anne Bertrand, "Winthrop: le dessein d'une collection", L'Oeil (March 2003), no. 545, p. 46 and fig. 5 (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. 141, 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. 141, repr.
Stephan Wolohojian and Alvin L. Clark, Jr., Harvard Art Museum/ Handbook, ed. Stephan Wolohojian, Harvard Art Museum (Cambridge, 2008), p. 172, repr.
Linda Gertner Zatlin, Aubrey Beardsley: A Catalogue Raisonné, Yale University Press (New Haven and London, 2016), vol. 2, no. 957, pp. 170-172, 249, repr. p. 171, detail repr. p. 129
- Exhibition History
Portrait, Prospect and Poetry: British Drawings from the Grenville L. Winthrop Bequest, Harvard University Art Museums, Cambridge, 09/11/1993 - 11/07/1993
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
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