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Print - Lysistrata defending the Acropolis
  • Lysistrata defending the Acropolis
    Beardsley, Aubrey Vincent, born 1872 - died 1898
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Lysistrata defending the Acropolis

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    London (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1929 (printed and published)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Beardsley, Aubrey Vincent, born 1872 - died 1898 (artist)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Collotype print on paper

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Mr Vyvyan Holland

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Prints & Drawings Study Room, level E, case I, shelf 50, box D

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.

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.

Place of Origin

London (made)


ca. 1929 (printed and published)


Beardsley, Aubrey Vincent, born 1872 - died 1898 (artist)

Materials and Techniques

Collotype print on paper

Marks and inscriptions



Height: 258 mm image, Width: 181 mm image, Height: 343 mm sheet, Width: 250 mm sheet

Object history note

One of eight plates by Beardsley for The Lysistrata of Aristophanes London: L Smithers, 1896.

Descriptive line

Collotype print after Aubrey Beardsley (1872-98). 'Lysistrata Defending the Acropolis', from The Lysistrata of Aristophanes 1896.

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

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.

Production Note

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.


Paper (fiber product); Printing ink



Subjects depicted

Chamber-pots; Buttocks; Stockings; Nudes; Breasts; Slippers


Illustration; Prints; Gender and Sexuality


Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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