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Sale 2511 Lot 46
Initial letter W. Ornamental device for Book XVI, chapter i on page 751 of "Le Morte d'Arthur" (London: J.M. Dent, 1893-94), created by March 20, 1894. Pen and ink on paper with thin tissue paper backing. 80x63 mm; 3x2 1/2 inches. Inlaid to size on 10x7 1/4-inch sheet with hand-drawn borders, faint "751" drawn inside design and again in pencil on verso. Cornered to archival matte and framed. Provenance: J. M. Dent to Erhard Weyhe Collection, Sotheby's New York, December 15, 1988, to Jack G. Milne, to Emily Milne.
Estimate $4,000 - 6,000
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 apple tree in Morte d'Arthur, shown here, represents temptation and the letter W is shaped like a harp, the sign to ward off evil or a cuckold -Zatlin 617.