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Lysistrata defending the Acropolis

Print
ca. 1929 (printed and published)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

Aubrey Beardsley's distinctive black and white drawings for Oscar Wilde's Salomé, published in 1894, brought him an extraordinary notoriety whilst still in his early twenties. His work for the periodical The Yellow Book confirmed his position as the most innovative illustrator of the day, but as a result of the hostile moralistic outcry that followed the arrest and trial of Oscar Wilde in early 1895, John Lane and other publishers panicked and dropped Beardsley. Thereafter, almost the only publisher who would use his drawings was Leonard Smithers. Smithers was a brilliant but shady character who operated on the fringes of the rare book trade, issuing small, clandestine editions of risqué books with the boast: 'I will publish the things the others are afraid to touch'. Smithers encouraged Beardsley's already growing interest in French, Latin and Greek texts of this kind and commissioned drawings to illustrate the Satires of the late Roman poet Juvenal and, most famously, Aristophanes's bawdy satirical play Lysistrata.

The seemingly obscure and bizarre iconography of the design is in fact explained by reference to Aristophanes' text which describes the comic attempts of the Athenian women to defend the city.

This print comes from the folio of reproductions made from Beardsley's original drawings and published in about 1929. Utilising the expensive collotype process, these prints are much closer to the originals than the earlier line-block prints of the1896 edition of the book or the various, mostly very poor reproductions included in subsequent pirated printings.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Collotype print on paper
Brief Description
Collotype print after Aubrey Beardsley (1872-98). 'Lysistrata Defending the Acropolis', from The Lysistrata of Aristophanes 1896.
Physical Description
Black and white print on paper depicting Lysistrata and two Athenian women, all semi-naked, driving off a small naked man carrying a torch. Two of the women throw the contents of chamber-pots, whilst the third bends over and breaks wind.
Dimensions
  • Image height: 258mm
  • Image width: 181mm
  • Sheet height: 343mm
  • Sheet width: 250mm
Marks and Inscriptions
signed: AUBREY BEARDSLEY
Credit line
Given by Mr Vyvyan Holland
Object history
One of eight plates by Beardsley for The Lysistrata of Aristophanes London: L Smithers, 1896.
Production
The collotype reproductions made from the original drawings in about 1929 can be recognised by the distinctive watermark in the paper comprising the initials AB in a circle.
Subjects depicted
Place Depicted
Summary
Aubrey Beardsley's distinctive black and white drawings for Oscar Wilde's Salomé, published in 1894, brought him an extraordinary notoriety whilst still in his early twenties. His work for the periodical The Yellow Book confirmed his position as the most innovative illustrator of the day, but as a result of the hostile moralistic outcry that followed the arrest and trial of Oscar Wilde in early 1895, John Lane and other publishers panicked and dropped Beardsley. Thereafter, almost the only publisher who would use his drawings was Leonard Smithers. Smithers was a brilliant but shady character who operated on the fringes of the rare book trade, issuing small, clandestine editions of risqué books with the boast: 'I will publish the things the others are afraid to touch'. Smithers encouraged Beardsley's already growing interest in French, Latin and Greek texts of this kind and commissioned drawings to illustrate the Satires of the late Roman poet Juvenal and, most famously, Aristophanes's bawdy satirical play Lysistrata.



The seemingly obscure and bizarre iconography of the design is in fact explained by reference to Aristophanes' text which describes the comic attempts of the Athenian women to defend the city.



This print comes from the folio of reproductions made from Beardsley's original drawings and published in about 1929. Utilising the expensive collotype process, these prints are much closer to the originals than the earlier line-block prints of the1896 edition of the book or the various, mostly very poor reproductions included in subsequent pirated printings.
Associated Object
E.297-1972 (Original)
Bibliographic References
  • Aristophanes. The Lysistrata of Aristophanes: now first wholly translated into English and illustrated with eight full page drawings by Aubrey Beardsley. London: L Smithers, 1896. 61p 8 plates. Brian Reade, Aubrey Beardsley, 1969, Cat. 463. Mark Samuels Lasner, A Selective Checklist of the Published Work of Aubery Beardsley, 1995, pp 67-8, cat 107 D.
  • Victoria and Albert Museum, Department of Engraving, Illustration and Design and Department of Paintings, Accessions 1945, London: HMSO, 1956.
Collection
Accession Number
E.748-1945

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record createdFebruary 27, 2007
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