The Rape of the Lock: An Heroi-comical Poem in Five Cantos, Written by Alexander Pope, Embroidered with Eleven Drawings by Aubrey Beardsley
Inscribed by Aubrey Beardsley to Alfred Gurney.
With No.56. His reputation was built on flat planes, stark black-and-white contrasts, and spareness associated with Japanese aesthetics, but Beardsley had command of many styles. He was equally attracted to overabundant decoration, especially in eighteenth-century engravings. Leonard Smithers produced The Rape of the Lock by Alexander Pope (1688–1744) in different formats—one a cheaper, smaller “Bijou” edition—with Beardsley’s images. Beardsley did not precisely illustrate the text; instead, he made it a point of departure. Describing his method, he employed the word “embroidered,” which both indicated his practice of adding what was not there originally and positioned his art in solidarity with the feminine sphere of material handicrafts. His image of Belinda with her hand reaching suggestively under the covers was an example of something definitely not present in Pope’s poem. The larger copy here was given by Beardsley to Alfred Gurney (1843–1898), the Beardsley family’s beloved priest.
From the Mark Samuels Lasner Collection, University of Delaware Library, Museums and Press