The Savoy, vol.2, Front Cover Design, by Aubrey Beardsley

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“Front Cover Design,” Aubrey Beardsley, The Savoy, vol, 2 (April 1896)


This image is the front cover design of the second volume of The Savoy, designed by Aubrey Beardsley. It features a feminine room, probably a bedroom, that is very wealthy and ornamental. There are three figures in this image, two women and a small servant. The two women seem to differ in age and are dressed very stylishly. They appear to have bought hats and are in the process of taking them out of the box to try them on. The third figure appears to be a servant, but could also be a small child. The face features, receding hairline, and lack of telltale male or female attributes suggests that the artist Beardsley was trying to keep the figure’s identity ambiguous.

Beardsley often incorporated eroticism and sexual innuendos into his artistry that subverted Victorian ideals. His questioning of gender norms in this cover, paired with his reputation as a satirist, suggests that the cover image pokes fun at the upper class society and their perceived elegance and wealth. This inference, however, only occurs when the viewer takes a closer look past all of the opulence of the room and the frivolity of hat-buying.