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The title refers to the novel by Alexandre Dumas fils, published in 1852, which tells the tragic story of a courtesan who sacrificed herself for her lover. The picture is part of a group of drawings of a woman at her dressing table and was originally published simply as Girl at Her Toilet. It is not clear whether Beardsley intended it from the outset to be a portrait of Madeleine Gautier, but it appears to relate to an earlier drawing of 1890, which is inscribed with the title of Dumas's novel and bears some resemblance to this work in the silhouetted figure and treatment of the draperies.
Ink and watercolour on paper
H 29.9 x W 18.1 cm
Presented by Colonel James Lister Melvill at the request of his brother, Harry Edward Melvill 1931
Drawing & watercolour