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