Das Rheingold is the first part of Wagner’s cycle known in English as The Ring of the Nibelung. In this illustration, we can see Wotan (left) and Loge, a demi-god of fire, in the Nibelungs’ underworld, in search of the gold stolen by Alberich. Loge mocks the magical powers of Alberich, who responds by morphing into a dragon. Loge pretends to be scared.
Beardsley had plans for a series of drawings dedicated to Das Rheingold, but he only had time to complete two of them.