AUBREY BEARDSLEY (1872-1898) "Flower flanked by Leaves." Ornamental device for Book V, chapter XII on page 180 of "Le Morte d'Arthur" (London: J.M. Dent, 1893-94), created by May 30, 1893. Repeated in Book X, chapter XLI and Book XXI, chapter XI. Pen and India ink on paper with thin tissue paper backing. 65x61 mm; 2 1/2x2 1/4 inches. Inlaid to size on 10x7 1/4-inch sheet with hand-drawn borders. Archivally matted and framed.
Provenance: J. M. Dent to Erhard Weyhe Collection, Sotheby's New York, December 15, 1988; thence to Jack and Caroline Milne.
Beardsley's tour-de-force was his first major commission and one in which he explored techniques suited to fine book reproduction, specifically the line-block. The artist's knowledge of the text and the literary associations with flora guided his choice for their usage in specific sections of the story. The clematis here indicates artifice and mental beauty. Zatlin, Linda, Aubrey Beardsley: A Catalogue Raisonné, Vol 1; #456.