Pencil, ink, and watercolor on paper,
With No.64. The legend of Tristan and Isolde’s ill-fated passion had Celtic origins, but Beardsley was more interested in the German opera by Richard Wagner (1813–1883). Characters whose desires compelled them to break their society’s rules held great appeal for him, as did anything ending in an orgasmic musical climax. For The Studio magazine in 1895, Beardsley depicted Isolde about to drink the love potion that set the events in motion. That image was reproduced in Arthur Symons’s posthumous volume in tribute to Beardsley, and the copy on display belonged to fellow artist, William Rothenstein. Tribute of a very different sort, however, had been paid earlier in the form of visual lampoon by John Wallace (1841-1903), a.k.a. “George Pipeshanks,” best known for his advertising work for the Cope Brothers’ tobacco company. His version of Beardsley’s Isolde had her smoking, while a dog licked German sausages suspended from her wrist.
From the Mark Samuels Lasner Collection, University of Delaware Library, Museums and Press