[Beardsley, Aubrey]; Wilde, Oscar
Title SALOMÉ. A TRAGEDY IN ONE ACT: Translated from the French of Oscar Wilde Pictured by Aubrey Beardsley
Book Condition Very good
Publisher London Melmoth & Co. 1904
Illustrator Beardsley, Aubrey
Seller ID 88
Pirated edition containing the first appearance of 15 original Beardsley illustrations WITH PLATES for 11 OF THE 16 illustrations FROM THE 1907 LANE ISSUE OF SALOMÉ. Small 4to (8 ½" x 6 ¾"). pp [1 - 10]; 11 - 75; [76 - 77]; [2 blank]. Collated and complete, but plates are not in the order specified on list of illustrations as usual. Limited edition; this copy number 238 of 250 copies printed on handmade paper. Beveled boards in light blue cloth with titles stamped in gilt on the spine. A very good copy with a lightly sunned spine with moderate rubbing to head and tail; minor rubbing to corners and faint soiling to boards. Etched bookplate by Theodore Diedricksen for Donald S. Tuttle on front paste-down. Contemporary advt. tipped in on ffep recto, later catalog entry tipped in on rfep verso. WITH 11 of the 16 original illustrations included in the J. Lane, The Bodley Head 1907 issue of Salomé, including: Woman in the Moon (IV), The Peacock Skirt (V), A Platonic Lament (VIII), Enter Herodias (IX), The Eyes of Herod (X), The Stomach Dance (XI), The Toilette of Salomé I (XII), The Toilette of Salomé II (XIII), Dancer’s Reward (XIV), The Climax (XV) and Cul de Lampe (XVI). The plates are on a light woven paper with age toning along the margin edge, and signs along the left edge where the pages had been tipped into the 1907 Lane issue. Many of the plates show pencil markings following the contours of the drawings; there are light ink marks and smudges scattered on the recto and verso margins. “Woman in the Moon” has erasure marks and redrawing as well as contemporary measurements written in ink on the lower left margin. Overall, the condition of the plates is Very good. Salomé was Oscar Wilde's one act play retelling the biblical story of King Herod's stepdaughter Salomé, who asked for the head of Herod's prisoner, John the Baptist, on a silver platter in exchange for performing an erotic dance for her step-father. Salomé was attracted to John the Baptist, but was angered when he refused to kiss her. Beardsley's drawings for Salomé caused controversy even before they were published by Elkin Mathews and John Lane at the Bodley Head for the first time in 1894. Shocked by and fearing the public's reaction to Beardsley's graphic images of hermaphroditism and frontal nudity in his proposed drawings for Salomé, Lane had Beardsley redraw the title page and "Salomé's Toilette" as well as remove the drawing, "John and Salome", before the book was printed. This 1904 edition of Salomé was pirated by a publisher named Leonard Smithers; "Melmoth & Co." was one of Smithers' many publishing "front" companies. Smithers had been acquainted with Wilde since 1888, and began publishing for both Wilde and Beardsley once Lane dropped them following Wilde’s trial in 1895. Smithers went into bankruptcy in 1900, and started issuing pirated works soon after to keep out of debt. Since Smithers sold the copyright of Beardsley’s drawings for Salomé to John Lane (The Bodley Head), during his Bankruptcy proceedings, Lane was able to have the 1904 Melmoth & Co. run of Salome seized and suppressed (destroyed). Those copies that survived Lane’s purge (including this one) were the first edition (authorized or unauthorized) to contain 15 of the 16 original Beardsley illustrations since the Melmoth 1904 issue preceded the 1907 authorized edition of Salomé from John Lane that also contained Beardsley’s original illustrations. A direct comparison of the 1904 Melmoth issues to the1907 Lane issue shows that the title pages of both Melmoth issues and portfolio do not contain Beardsley's original hermaphroditic title page found in the 1907 John Lane issue. Mason 615; Nelson, Publisher to the Decadents, p.262, p. 274; Delaware Art Museum, Aubrey Beardsley’s illustrations for Oscar Wilde’s Salomé (1.28.15); Arnold, City of Sin (google books; no page given); The Stanford Companion to Victorian Fiction, p. 591.
Salome, Wilde, Beardsley, Smithers, Melmoth, decadent, art nouveau, pirated, Richard Strauss, prospectus, proof plates, John Lane, Bodley Head,