Originally catalogued as ‘Dancing Satyr’ but in the online version of the catalogue called ‘Squatting Devil Fishing’, it was used as a vignette on the title of the Sheridan section of an 1893 Dent publication called The Bon-Mots of Sydney Smith and Richard Brinsley Sheridan.
Beardsley scholar Linda Zatlin, whose catalogue raisonné of Beardsley’s work was published by Yale in 2016, notes “this miniature devil with a fishing rod arises from Beardsley’s study of the flourishes of 17th century calligraphers” and that the devil as seen here is “more joyfully abandoned than those in Le Morte d’Arthur”.
Published in 1893-94, the Dent edition of Malory’s work was Beardsley’s first major commission and one of his ornamental devices, a 3in (7.5cm) square ink drawing of ‘Spiky Leaves on a Stem’, was sold by Swann at £7000.
Royal trunk call
The sale’s top lot, at $32,000 (£25,600), was Jean de Brunhoff’s ink and watercolour design for the cover of the 1933, first French edition of Le Roi Babar.
The third of his Babar books, it shows him dressed in ermine and scarlet robes, riding a horse and waving a green banner that bears the work’s title and other publishing details.