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Print - The Climax
  • The Climax
    Beardsley, Aubrey Vincent, born 1872 - died 1898
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The Climax

  • Object:

    Print

  • Place of origin:

    London (made)
    London (published)

  • Date:

    1894 (first published)
    1907 (published)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Beardsley, Aubrey Vincent, born 1872 - died 1898 (artist)
    Lane, John, born 1854 - died 1925 (publisher)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Line block print on Japanese vellum

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Michael Harari, in memory of his father, Ralph A. Harari

  • Museum number:

    E.436-1972

  • Gallery location:

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

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).

Place of Origin

London (made)
London (published)

Date

1894 (first published)
1907 (published)

Artist/maker

Beardsley, Aubrey Vincent, born 1872 - died 1898 (artist)
Lane, John, born 1854 - died 1925 (publisher)

Materials and Techniques

Line block print on Japanese vellum

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.

Dimensions

Height: 342 mm, Width: 272 mm

Object history note

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.'

Descriptive line

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

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

Guy Cogeval and Beatrice Avanzi, eds. de la Scene au Tableau Rovereto: MART - Museo di Arte Moderna e Contemporanea di Trento e Rovereto, 2009. ISBN: 978-2-0812-2944-0.
Victoria and Albert Museum Department of Prints, Drawings and Paintings Accession Register for 1972
p. 83
Calloway, Stephen. Aubrey Beardsley. London: V & A Publications, 1998. 224pp, illus. ISBN: 1851772197.

Production Note

First printed in 1894; this print is from the second edition, 1907.

Materials

Japanese vellum

Techniques

Line block

Subjects depicted

Head; Blood

Categories

Prints; Illustration; Theatre; Books; Designs

Collection

Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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