The Savoy: An Illustrated Quarterly, Prospectus, Number I. Dec 1st 1895
Pencil, brush, and ink on paper,
Design for the “Pierrot” version of the prospectus for The Savoy.
Pierrot figures—whether jolly, mournful, or sinister—were recurring features of Beardsley’s art. In a drawing titled The Death of Pierrot for the October 1896 issue of The Savoy, Pierrot served as a grim stand-in for Beardsley himself, whose worsening health made him contemplate mortality. Throughout the planning of The Savoy, however, which launched in January 1896, Beardsley was in an optimistic mood, as he, Arthur Symons (its editor), and Leonard Smithers (its publisher) plotted the creation of a magazine of literature and art to rival and outshine The Yellow Book. His Pierrot for the prospectus was thus a merry fellow, clutching a huge pen and, in a hall-of-mirrors effect, the very brochure that he ornamented. Legend has it that Smithers found the image too frivolous. For a clown, therefore, Beardsley substituted John Bull, personification of the English public, but snuck in a minute bulge in this character’s trousers.
From the Mark Samuels Lasner Collection, University of Delaware Library, Museums and Press