The Royal Holloway Victorian MA Blog

Reading for Aestheticism & Decadence: Swinburne


Hellenistic sculpture of Hermaphrodite (Louvre)

James Abbott McNeill Whistler, The Little White Girl: Symphony in White no.2 (1864)

Simeon Solomon, Damon and Aglae (1866)

Dear All,

All of the poems set for this week are taken from Swinburne’s explosive debut verse volume, Poems and Ballads: First Series (1866). They can be read online at

Three of the poems refer to separate artworks (shown at the head of the post).
1.’Before the Mirror’ to James Abbott McNeill Whistler’s The Little White Girl: Symphony in White no.2 (1864) (Tate)
2.’Erotion’ to Simeon Solomon’s painting Damon and Aglae (exhib. RA 1866)
3.’Hermaphroditus’ to the Hellinistic sculpture of Hermaphrodite, also known as the Borghese Hermaphrodite (in the Louvre, where Swinburine viewed it)

I will bring copies of the essay on your reading list – Swinburne’s ‘Simeon Solomon: notes on his “Vision of Love”‘ – to class on Thursday.

I look forward to hearing your responses to these texts!