When Oscar Wilde wrote his play Salome in 1894, there was only one artist suitable in his mind, worthy of depicting both the ghoulishness and dark eroticism of his script – Aubrey Beardsley. The pair shared a similar aesthetic sensibility and had no time for the moralising hypocrisy of the times. It seems cancel culture was rife even in Victorian society. The play was banned in Paris due to the perceived blasphemy.
Beardsley’s voluptuous, scratchy artwork challenged, as did Wilde’s writing , notions of restraint and prim, buttoned-up attitudes towards sexuality.
They may have been created in monochrome, but they ooze colour. You can almost taste the metallic blood.
Above all, these remarkable illustrations, now as always, represent a sense of freedom of expression.