The Murders in the Rue Morgue, for Edgar Allan Poe’s “Tales of Mystery and the Imagination,” Chicago, 1895-96
Aubrey Vincent Beardsley British
Related author Edgar Allan Poe American
Not on view
Beardsley here responds to Poe’s "Murders in the Rue Morgue," choosing to represent the aftermath of a violent scene described by a sailor who owns a gigantic "Ourang-Outang." The text recounts how the "ferocious animal" kills Madame L'Espanaye, then strangles her daughter, and attempts to hide his crime by "thrust[ing her body] up the chimney." Beardsley's creature (not an orangutan because of its tail), has with pointed nails and a chandelier earring. Carrying the girl's limp body, the animal strides before a large curtained bed in a room that shows no sign of disarray. The body is dressed in pantalettes, a corset and one slipper, with hair falling across the face. This is one of four drawings that Beardsley made to illustrate a new American edition of Poe's "Tales of Mystery and the Imagination." The commission came from the Chicago publisher Stone and Kimball in December 1893 and the artist wrote in response that he believed the material offered "an admirable chance of picture making." Beginning in February 1894, Beardsley completed four of the eight requested designs. Related sets of prints were issued in portfolios that accompanied deluxe Japanese vellum versions of the publication in 1895-96.