Oct 7, 2009

The Toilet, from The Rape of the Lock by Alexander Pope

The Toilet, from The Rape of the Lock by Alexander Pope

c. 1895–96

Aubrey Beardsley

(British, 1872-1898)

Pen and black ink with traces of graphite underdrawing

Sheet: 25.6 x 17.4 cm (10 1/16 x 6 7/8 in.)

Dudley P. Allen Fund 1953.136


Did you know?

After a rapid rise to fame and notoriety, Aubrey Beardsley produced hundreds of drawings before falling victim to tuberculosis at the age of 25.


In this drawing, Aubrey Beardsley illustrates an early scene in Alexander Pope’s satirical masterpiece The Rape of the Lock (1712) in which the heroine, Belinda, primps in her boudoir. Reflecting the poem’s emphasis on contrived rather than natural beauty, the drawing is densely layered with artifice. A view of an idyllic garden with a cupola-topped pavilion is glimpsed not through a window as it would first seem, but on a folding screen. The bejeweled bottles littering the table serve as emblems of Belinda’s vanity.

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