Twas he has summon’d to her silent Bed
The Morning Dream that hover’d o’er her Head.
A Youth more glitt’ring than a Birth-Night Beau. . . .
Carrying a long baton tipped with a glittering star, an elegant suitor of the 1700s peers through an opening in the bed-curtains to spy on Belinda, the protagonist in Alexander Pope’s poem, The Rape of the Lock. According to the passage from the poem, the suitor probably represents the “Morning Dream” sent to Belinda by her guardian to populate her fantasies.
In his typically sensuous and inventive way, Aubrey Beardsley did not illustrate the passage literally; rather, he chose suggestive, fantastic imagery replete with allusions. Long, lacy bed-curtains embroidered with women’s busts and feminine motifs, such as the peacock, symbolize Belinda. Beardsley’s unique manner of drawing includes elaborate layering of patterns, such as the delicate dotting that resembles textile embroidery.
(Text courtesy of the Getty’s Open Content Program, CC BY 4.0).