Portfolio of Aubrey Beardsley's Drawings Illustrating "Salome"

Aubrey BEARDSLEY   |   Oscar WILDE

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"NOTORIOUS": BEARDSLEY'S ILLUSTRATIONS FOR WILDE'S SALOME, FOLIO PORTFOLIO WITH 17 EXHIBITION-SIZE PLATES INCLUDING ILLUSTRATIONS NOT IN THE 1894 EDITION

(WILDE, Oscar) BEARDSLEY, Aubrey. Portfolio of Aubrey Beardsley's Drawings Illustrating "Salome" by Oscar Wilde. [London: Bodley Head, 1906]. Folio (11 by 14 inches), original three-quarter ivory cloth and green paper boards and later ties, 18 leaves loose as issued in portfolio.

Scarce folio collection, circa 1906, of Beardsley's controversial illustrations for the 1894 first edition in English of Wilde's Salome, featuring 17 splendid folio plates, including the censored first version of "The Toilette of Salome" (XIII), deemed too scandalous for inclusion in the 1894 edition, in original half vellum and gilt-stamped portfolio.

Beardsley's images for the 1894 first edition in English of Wilde's 1893 play made the artist "notorious, and it remains the book of which most people think when his name is mentioned… the book's appearance was delayed, in part because of his publisher's fear lest the illustrations be found indecent… When Salome was published, the critics made their expected protest, though Wilde was their primary target… But even if Beardsley offers amiable caricatures of Wilde in 'Enter Herodias' and two other designs, it is mistaken to think that he was contemptuous of the text… It moved his imagination as did few other subjects" (Ray, Illustrator and the Book, 315). While there was contention between the two men, Wilde viewed the illustrations as "'quite wonderful,' and when Smithers published Volpone with Beardsley's illustrations after the artist's death, Wilde told the publisher that the quality of the Salome work far outshone that expended on the Jonson… the Beardsley legacy to Salome proved to be an enduring one" (Tydeman, Wilde:Salome, 122). He conveys "the nakedness of Salomé's lust as starkly in his illustrations as Wilde had sought to do in the unraveling of his play. The artists had complemented each other with sublime aptness" (Pearce, Unmasking, 308). Mixed issue, with "List of Plates" in letterpress (later issue) and the 17 plates unnumbered, as in the first issue (according to Lasner, the first issue included the plates only, and unnumbered). Portfolio front board gilt-lettered, "Aubrey Beardsley's Illustrations To Salome," with gilt-stamped rose bush motif from the 1894 edition. Containing Plate XIII, "Beardsley's salacious first version of 'The Toilette of Salome,'" which was removed from the first edition by the publisher, and Beardsley's "sanitized second version" (Plate XII) (Powell and Raby, eds, Oscar Wilde in Context, xii). "Only 13 of the 16 illustrations Beardsley designed for Salome were printed in John Lane's 1894 edition; 'John and Salome,' 'Salome on the Settle' and the first version of 'The Toilette of Salome' were excluded" (Latham, ed., Haunted Texts, 194n). Lasner 59E.

Plates fine, light expert repairs to portfolio paper flap folds, light wear to portfolio boards.

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