Lysistrata defending the Acropolis thumbnail 1
Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Request to view at the Prints & Drawings Study Room, level E , Case MB3R, Shelf I, Box 50D

Lysistrata defending the Acropolis

Drawing
1896 (made), 1896 (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
Additional TitleLysistrata (series title)
Materials and Techniques
Pen and ink on paper
Brief Description
Drawing by Aubrey Beardsley, 'Lysistrata defending the Acropolis', illustration to 'Lysistrata' by Aristophanes, published by Leonard Smithers, London 1896 (facing page 30), pen and ink on paper, Epsom, England, 1896
Physical Description
A drawing in black ink on white 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
  • Height: 27.2cm
  • Width: 19.1cm
Marks and Inscriptions
'AUBREY BEARDSLEY' (Signed in ink bottom left corner)
Credit line
Purchased with Art Fund support
Object history
One of eight illustrations by Beardsley for 'The Lysistrata of Aristophanes' that was published in London by Leonard Smithers in 1896.
Subjects depicted
Associations
Literary Reference'Lysistrata' by Aristophanes
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 Objects
Bibliographic Reference
Calloway, Stephen. Aubrey Beardsley. London: V & A Publications, 1998. 224pp, illus. ISBN: 1851772197.
Collection
Accession Number
E.297-1972

About this object record

Explore the Collections contains over a million catalogue records, and over half a million images. It is a working database that includes information compiled over the life of the museum. Some of our records may contain offensive and discriminatory language, or reflect outdated ideas, practice and analysis. We are committed to addressing these issues, and to review and update our records accordingly.

You can write to us to suggest improvements to the record.

Suggest Feedback

record createdJune 30, 2009
Record URL