The Wagnerites

Drawing
1894 (made)
The Wagnerites thumbnail 1
The Wagnerites thumbnail 2
Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Prints & Drawings Study Room, level E
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

A drawing in black ink depicting a stylised image showing men and women, many with elaborate coiffures, seated in an opera house. On the balcony there are three seated women and two standing men. A programme that has fallen onto the floor lettered 'TRISTAN AND ISOLDE' is visible in the bottom right corner.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Pen and India ink, heightened with white, on paper
Brief Description
Drawing by Aubrey Beardsley, 'The Wagnerites', reproduced as no. III in 'Four Drawings by Aubrey Beardsley' in 'The Yellow Book', vol. III, October 1894, pen and ink, London, 1894
Physical Description
A drawing in black ink depicting a stylised image showing men and women, many with elaborate coiffures, seated in an opera house. On the balcony there are three seated women and two standing men. A programme that has fallen onto the floor lettered 'TRISTAN AND ISOLDE' is visible in the bottom right corner.
Dimensions
  • Height: 20.6cm
  • Width: 17.7cm
Marks and Inscriptions
  • 'TRISTAN AND ISOLDE' (Lettered)
  • 'This is one of the finest drawings A.B. ever made, and it had much to do with making his reputation in France. It was drawn in 1894, and first published in the Yellow Book, vol III [October, 1894], and I think in the Courier Français. Joseph Pennell.' (Inscribed on the back in pencil)
Object history
This illustration was reproduced as no. III in 'Four Drawings by Aubrey Beardsley' in 'The Yellow Book', vol. III, October 1894.



According to Stephen Calloway in his book Aubrey Beardsley. London: V & A Publications, 1998, p. 103: 'Beardsley had an obsessive interest in Wagner, and avidly attended the London performances of the works. This depiction of the Wagnerian audience rather than the action of the opera identified by the fallen programme as Tristan and Isolde, is one of the greatest masterpieces of Beardsley's manière noire. Sickert claimed to have warned him that the drawings in which the area of black exceeded that of white paper were bound to fail artistically, and to have 'convinced him' of the truth of this aesthetic rule. Fortunately Beardsley seems to have ignored the advice.'
Subjects depicted
Literary Reference'Tristan and Isolde' by Wagner
Bibliographic References
  • Calloway, Stephen. Aubrey Beardsley. London: V & A Publications, 1998. 224pp, illus. ISBN: 1851772197.
  • Victoria & Albert Museum Department of Prints and Drawings and Department of Paintings, Accessions 1932. London: HMSO, 1933
Collection
Accession Number
E.136-1932

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record createdJune 30, 2009
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