Aubrey Beardsley and Lysistrata

It was a subject that could have been made for the pen and draughtsmanship of Aubrey Beardsley:

His drawings illustrate the comedy by Aristophenes, Lysistrata, which is about one woman’s attempt to end the Peloponnesian War by persuading the women of Greece to withhold sexual privileges from husbands and lovers, in order to convince them to negotiate peace. All it does is inflame the battle between the sexes, however.

After he’s converted to Roman Catholicism, Beardsley suggested to his publisher Leonard Smithers that he destroy all the copies of the drawing cycle. Luckily Smithers did not oblige.

Here’s a sample:

AB - Lysistrata, entreating

Lysistrata: Entreating

AB - Lysistrata, examination

Lysistrata: Examination

AB - Lysistrata, powdering

Lysistrata: Powdering

AB - Lysistrata, trio

Lysistrata: Trio

Lysistrata 1


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One Response to Aubrey Beardsley and Lysistrata

  1. aubrey says:


    I remember seeing these prints in…the V&A Museum? (not sure) They were brought to me in trays – like desserts – and as I looked through them, I shook my head and thought, “Aubrey, how do you do it…how do you do it?”

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