Richard Bruce Nugent’s Salomé


Untitled (Salomé, no date).

I was looking for work by the artist, Richard Bruce Nugent (1906–1987), not more Salomé illustrations so this was a surprise discovery. Nugent was an American writer, illustrator and painter who was friends in the 1920s with key figures in the Harlem Renaissance such as Langston Hughes and Zora Neale Hurston. Unlike Hughes, whose sexuality has been disputed for years, Nugent was openly gay at a time when such a stance carried considerable risks. According to the Nugent website he “stood for thirty years as the only African-American writer willing clearly to indicate his homosexuality in print.” That site hosts these pictures in a number of gallery pages which include some rather fine (and very gymnastic) erotic drawings. Among the writings there’s a piece entitled Slender Length of Beauty that dates from the same period as the picture below, a very Wildean retelling of the Salomé story which includes a character named after that favourite figure of Uranian myth, Narcissus.


Untitled (John the Baptist? 1930).

Elsewhere on { feuilleton }
The gay artists archive
The Salomé archive

One thought on “Richard Bruce Nugent’s Salomé”

  1. Well John, I could wait for you to post something more blatantly decadent/erotic, rather than just symbolist or erotic by some distant affiliation, that I might use the former as a more proper segue to show you this artist whom I discovered via the Eaten by Ducks blog only recently, but already consider her to be one of my favorites, but I am impatient and this will have to do. I like her works for the mysterious danger, both mundane and metaphysical, they exude. You however, may appreciate just as well aspects of her work that are beyond my understanding. In ways she reminds me of that brilliant ‘NoBeast’ character whose work you displayed years back, only more sophisticated in my opinion, not that everything ought to be sophisticated.

    Her deviatArt page, should her personal website give you trouble, it has for me a few times.

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