Posted 11 months ago
Printed by the John W. Luce & Company, Boston (1906). First American Edition. WILDE, Oscar. SALOME. A Tragedy in One Act. [not in Mason, who does list the 1906 printing by the John Lane Company (UK)]. Twelvemo, dark paper-covered boards printed in black and gold ink, reproducing Beardsley's design on front cover (as with the 1906 John Lane edition). 13 Beardsley illustrations total.
Aubrey Beardsley (1872-1898) one of the most remarkable English illustrators of the industrial age and at the forefront of the Art Nouveau and symbolism movements. At the age of fifteen he had illustrated his favourite books (e.g., Madame Bovary, Manon Lescaut). By the time of his death from tuberculosis at the age of twenty-six, he had made a lasting impact on the art of illustration.
"It was through Burne-Jones that, in 1891, Beardsley, then aged eighteen, met Oscar Wilde. Wilde was writing his Salome in French, and asked Beardsley to illustrate it. Ambitious and supremely gifted, the young artist developed a perverse and playfully theatrical style partly inspired by Greek vase painting. The venomous elegance of his drawings has an ornamental rhythm akin to the abstract decorations of Islamic palaces. For Salome, Beardsley ironically appropriated the decadent theme of the evil, emasculating woman. His characters are often grotesque - notably in drawings he later described as 'naughty,' representing, for example, grimacing 'Gobbi' afflicted with monumentally tumescent phalluses. As a homosexual, Beardsley did not experience the anguish awoken in artists like Munch by the problematic state of relations between the sexes. Wilde described Beardsley's muse as having 'moods of terrible laughter'."
- From Michael Gibson, Symbolism.