Not currently on display at the V&A

The Climax

Print
1894 (first published), 1907 (published)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

Black and white line block print on Japanese vellum depicting the levitating figure of Salome dressed in a white robe and with writhing snake-like curling black hair as she holds the severed head of John the Baptist (Jokanaan) complete with tendril-like hair and dripping blood. These drips form a puddle in the lower right hand section of the design, from which a white lily grows statuesquely. In the top left hand corner of the image is a cluster of circular black and white objects, perhaps referencing the 'clusters of black grapes' to which Salome compares John's hair.

This image was based on the original version of 'The Climax' by the artist, entitled 'J'ai baisé ta bouche Iokanaan', illustration to Oscar Wilde's play 'Salome', published in 'The Studio', Vol. 1, No. 1, 1893 (E.456-1899).


object details
Categories
Object Type
Additional TitleA Portfolio of Aubrey Beardsley's drawings illustrating 'Salome' by Oscar Wilde (series title)
Materials and Techniques
Line block print on Japanese vellum
Brief Description
Print by Aubrey Beardsley, 'The Climax', plate XV from 'A Portfolio of Aubrey Beardsley's drawings illustrating 'Salome' by Oscar Wilde', published by John Lane, London, 1907, redrawn from the print by Aubrey Beardsley, 'J'ai baisé ta bouche Iokanaan', illustration to Oscar Wilde's play 'Salome', published in 'The Studio', Vol. 1, No. 1, 1893, line block print on Japanese vellum
Physical Description
Black and white line block print on Japanese vellum depicting the levitating figure of Salome dressed in a white robe and with writhing snake-like curling black hair as she holds the severed head of John the Baptist (Jokanaan) complete with tendril-like hair and dripping blood. These drips form a puddle in the lower right hand section of the design, from which a white lily grows statuesquely. In the top left hand corner of the image is a cluster of circular black and white objects, perhaps referencing the 'clusters of black grapes' to which Salome compares John's hair.



This image was based on the original version of 'The Climax' by the artist, entitled 'J'ai baisé ta bouche Iokanaan', illustration to Oscar Wilde's play 'Salome', published in 'The Studio', Vol. 1, No. 1, 1893 (E.456-1899).
Dimensions
  • Height: 342mm
  • Width: 272mm
Dimensions checked: Measured 21/04/1999 by LH Current mount is H 53, W 38
Style
Marks and Inscriptions
  • 'PLATE XV' (Printed text in the lower right hand corner of the sheet.)
  • (Signed with the artist's monogram in the lower right hand corner of the image.)
Credit line
Given by Michael Harari, in memory of his father, Ralph A. Harari
Object history
From 'A Portfolio of Aubrey Beardsley's drawings illustrating 'Salome' by Oscar Wilde'. Second issue. Published by John Lane, London [1907]. With contents sheet in letterpress and 17 plates [E.422 to 438-1972] in a portfolio of grey-green paper boards, half bound in vellum, with green silk tapes, stamped in gold with title and the rose-bush motif from the 1894 edition. With the stamp of A. Lang Buchhandlung Moskau inside the front cover.



The plates are no longer in the portfolio but are now mounted separately.



According to Stephen Calloway in his book, Aubrey Beardsley, London: V&A Publications, 1998, p. 83: 'Because The Studio owned the copyright of Beardsley's original version of this subject the artist was obliged to redraw it; in fact this new version displays a considerable advance stylistically, even if it lacks something of the sheer menace of his earlier characterisation of the femme fatale, Salome. A comparison (illustration p. 59 [E.456-1899]) also reveals Beardsley's move away from his old preferred elongated upright format towards the more conventional page proportions favoured by Lane and other publishers.'
Production
First printed in 1894; this print is from the second edition, 1907.
Subjects depicted
Association
Literary ReferenceOscar Wilde's 'Salome'
Associated Objects
Bibliographic References
  • Cogeval, Guy & Avanzi, Beatrice (Eds.), De la Scene au Tableau, Paris : Flammarion, 2009191
  • Victoria and Albert Museum Department of Prints, Drawings and Paintings Accession Register for 1972
  • Calloway, Stephen. Aubrey Beardsley. London: V & A Publications, 1998. 224pp, illus. ISBN: 1851772197.p. 83
Other Number
Plate XV - Plate number
Collection
Accession Number
E.436-1972

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record createdFebruary 11, 2009
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