The Peacock Skirt is an intricate and mesmerizing illustration completed by Aubrey Beardsley in 1893 as part of a series of drawings for Salome’s publication. The artwork depicts the eponymous Salome wearing a long robe embroidered with peacock feather patterns and adorned with a headdress featuring long peacock feathers draped over her back. These elements create an exotic, vibrant portrayal that immerses the viewer in Beardsley’s interpretation of Salome’s character.
Beardsley was inspired by James Whistler’s “The Princess from the Land of Porcelain,” which influenced both his style and subject matter for “The Peacock Skirt.” Despite Whistler’s initial disappointment that Beardsley had copied his work, critics praised the illustrator for his creative genius. This acclaim was thanks to his intricate attention to detail, which is evident in every line and curve of Salome’s lavish dress.
As one of Beardsley’s earliest commissions, “The Peacock Skirt” highlights his mastery over line-work and symmetry. The illustration remains a prime example of Art Nouveau aesthetics in Victorian era artwork showcasing sensuous curves, elegant organic forms and dreamlike compositions.