As Beardsley's work matured, he moved away from the influence of Burne-Jones towards that of Whistler's Japanese style. In 1890, Whistler had published his anthology of wit, The Gentle Art of Making Enemies and signed it with the usual symbol of a butterfly, though a wasp might have been more appropriate. Beardsley was fascinated with the figure of an artist who could create elegant and stinging witty retorts. He adopted the symbol of the butterfly in each of his drawings of this periled perhaps to demonstrate that his retort is in his art.
Added to the Victorian Web: 1991; last modified: 7 February 2001