[This image may be used without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose.]
In juxtaposing a diminutive Whistler with the far larger figure of the Victorian sage and cultural prophet Thomas Carlyle, Beerbohm draws upon the ancient pictorial device dating at least to the pharaohs of indicating moral, political, or spiritual power by relative size. Beerbohm depicts the American painter pontificating on the aesthetic values of Japanese porcelain — a characteristic concern of the aesthetes that Whistler probably learned from Rossetti, who collected it — to a dour Carlyle, who would not have been interested in the slightest. Given that Beerbohm parodies Carlyle and Ruskin, one might be surprised by his obvious preference for the non-aesthetic sage.
The image of Carlyle derives from Whistler's famous portrait. [GPL]
Beerbohm, Max. Rossetti and His Circle. London: William Heinemann, 1922.