Aubrey Vincent Beardsley, Design for Tailpiece, Illustration from "Salome" by Oscar Wilde

Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge (Massachusetts)

Date: 1893
Technique: Ink, 16,5 × 17,5 cm

The tailpiece beautifully epitomizes Beardsley's illustrations for Wilde's play: in addition to the emblem with which the artist signs his works, we have two grotesques, the satyr and the harlequin or clown, who lay to rest a beautiful nude woman inside a decorated powder box with an ornate-handled powder puff beside it, thereby touching upon the Decadent's emphasize upon cosmetics that Max Beerbohm mocked in "A Defence of Cosmetics." Putting the woman — Salome herself? — to bed (or in a coffin) also echoes Thackeray's mention of putting his characters away once Vanity Fair has ended. — George P. Landow

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