Le Diaboliste Catholique ca. 1892.
Aubrey Beardsley 1872 - 1898.
Pen and ink, 15 x 10.7 cm.
Signed with the artist's emblem.
Though not actually a consumptive, Enoch Soames's hypochondriac
paranoia led him to believe that his days as a writer were very limited,
and that like others of the "Tragic Generation" he was, in Symons's
words, a "poet in a hurry." It has been said that that it was at the
consulting rooms of the eminent surgeon, Symes Thompson, that Soames,
Henry Harland and Beardsley all met in the middle months of 1892. Certainly
Soames later wrote to Beardsley, on an undated seaside post card from
Dear Chap, You will remember your promise won't you??? That
beast Rothenstein is so pleased with himself that he won't draw me at
all, much less speak. Rops will only do me naked and with one of those
lascivious monkeysso it has to be something in your Jap
manner or not at all. So, do try to make something of me.
I implore you. Stenbock joins in best regards, yrs. E. S."
The drawing, which Beardsley made during the late summer
of 1892, was excluded from the Iconography of the artist's
work by the devout Aymer Vallance, who strongly disapproved of Soames's
open avowal of diabolist leanings; the original, long considered lost,
was known only from a photograph discovered by R. A. Walker shut between
the pages of a copy of Tit-Bits left in the debris abandoned
by the Beardsley family when they left their house at 114 Cambridge
Street in 1895, following Aubrey's dismissal from his art-editorship
of the Yellow Book.
Acquired presumably at some time after 1932,
the drawing remained in the von Frieblisch collection until his death;
it is now in a private collection.