Queen Parysatis (La Reine Parysatis)


James Ensor (1860-1949),  etching, 1899, signed and dated (1900) in pencil lower right, countersigned and titled verso. The title verso is: “La Reine Parysatis ecorchant un eunuque” (Queen Parysatis flaying a eunuch). References: Elesh 121, Taevernier 116; Elesh’s second state (of 2). In very good condition, remains of prior hinging verso, on an ivory/tan simile Japon paper with wide margins, 6 3/4 x 4 3/4, the sheet 11 3/8 x 9 1/4 inches, archival matting.

A fine rich atmospheric impression, printed in dark brown/black ink with aquatint or grainy areas probably achieved through the use of phosphorus or other grainy elements.

Ensor illustrates an episode from Plutarch, in which the Persian Queen Parysatis, at the left, flays the eunuch who had killed her son. Her assistant stands at the center. Flames emanate from the helmets of those on the right, and a crowd of faces, one skeletal at the bottom, witness this sadistic happening.