N03815 A CAPRICE c. 1894
On reverse: A MASKED WOMAN WITH A WHITE MOUSE
Canvas, 30×25 (76·5×63·5); the verso was painted within the area enclosed by the stretcher, 25 1/4×20 1/4 (64×51).
Purchased from R.A. Walker (Clarke Fund) 1923.
Coll: Mrs Pugh 1895; sold to R. A. Walker 1920.
Exh: Winter Exhibition, Grafton Galleries, January 1920 (70); Ceramic Society, Modern Paintings, Stoke-on-Trent, December 1920 (64); Tate Gallery, 1923–4 (8).
Lit: Vallance in Ross, 1909, p.84, No.72 (verso only); Walker, 1923, No.1, recto repr. in colour; Macfall, 1928, p.70.
Repr: Uncollected Work, 1925, pls. 34 (recto, in colour) and 35 (verso).
The painting was left behind by Beardsley when he left 114 Cambridge Street, Pimlico, in the summer of 1895 and was found by Mrs Pugh when she took over the lease, together with a ‘great quantity’ of drawings which she destroyed (letter from R. A. Walker, 28 September 1959).
Both compositions are unfinished. The recto, first called ‘A Caprice’ by R. A. Walker, loc. cit., is a variant of the design in black and white reproduced in the second number of The Yellow Book, July 1894, as the first of ‘The Comedy-Ballet of Marionnettes, as performed by the troupe of the Theatre-Impossible, posed in three drawings’ (repr. Later Work, 1920 ed., pl.15); in this the head of the woman is in half-profile and she looks out at the spectator, whereas the painting shows her in full profile. No other oil paintings by Beardsley are known.
Mary Chamot, Dennis Farr and Martin Butlin, The Modern British Paintings, Drawings and Sculpture, London 1964, I