The present illustration was printed on page 733 of the second volume of Dent's edition of the Morte Darthur, 1893-4, where it appears as the chapter head for Chapter VI. Book X. The design has been catalogued as Reade 127 (B. Reade, Beardsley, London, Studio Vista, 1967). Reade did not, however, know the original drawing and reproduced the image from the printed version in the first edition. Beardsley often intoduced invented and fanciful personae into his illustrations. Most of the full-page illustrations in Morte Darthur represent characters and scenes from the tales, but the majority of the smaller, decorative chapter headings bearing no relation to the text. There are some that do depict appropriate medieval folk, such as knights, damsels and minstrels, but just as many portray classical woodland creatures such as nymphs and dryads. The present drawing is particuarly fanciful as Beardsley has invented a baroque female centaur.
We are grateful to Stephen Calloway for his help in preparing this catalogue entry.