Enter Herodias

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A hieratic Herodias is introduced by a buffoonish herald and accompanied by an embryo-faced character and a page
Enter Herodias.
(Facing p. 24.)

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University of California Libraries, The Internet Archive

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Description

Line block print showing the hieratic figure of Herodias introduced by a buffoonish master of ceremonies and accompanied by an embryo-faced character and an almost naked page.

The first version of this drawing didn’t include the fig leaf covering the androgynous page’s genitals, which was added on the demand of John Lane, the publisher. This latter, however, either missed or tolerated the phallic candlesticks and the spectacular erection unsuccessfully concealed beneath the clothes of the princess’s bizarre attendant. Beardsley didn’t appreciate Lane’s way of impinging on his work: to his friend Alfred Lambart, he gave a proof of this illustration printed before the addition of the fig leaf (and kept at the Princeton University Library), on which he wrote the following epigram:

Because one figure was undressed
This little drawing was suppressed
It was unkind —
But never mind
Perhaps it all was for the best —

The owl-capped jester holding a copy of Salomé has the caricatured features of Oscar Wilde.

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