How Sir Bedivere cast the Sword Excalibur into the Water

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How Sir Bedivere cast the Sword Excalibur into the Water


art, Arthur, Arthurian, Arthuriana, legend, legends, myth, mythology, Aubrey Beardsley (1872-1898), Avalon, death, Excalibur, illustration, J.M. Dent & Sons, king, knight, lake, Le Morte d’Arthur, SA, Sir Bedivere, South Australia, sword, Thomas Malory, wounded king


This work was gifted to the Art Gallery of South Australia in 1960 by Mrs R.A. Haste. It is a line-block reproduction on paper depicting a scene from Thomas Malory’s fifteenth-century canonical Arthurian text Le Morte d’Arthur. Following the battle at Barnham Down where Arthur is mortally wounded, he commands Sir Bedivere (at this point the only knight left standing) to take his sword Excalibur to the water and cast it in, and then to return and tell him what he has seen. Sir Bedivere twice takes the sword to the waterside but hides it rather than throw it to waste. Upon his return he tells Arthur that nothing unusual transpired when he threw the sword in and Arthur knows he is lying. On his third visit he casts the sword into the water, and a hand appears from the water to grab hold of it. Sir Bedivere afterwards takes Arthur to the lake, where a barge appears to take him to Avalon. The work was created by Aubrey Beardsley for a nineteenth-century illustrated edition of Le Morte d’Arthur, which was issued in 12 parts between 1893 and 1984 by London publisher J.M. Dent & Sons.


Beardsley, Aubrey


Art Gallery of South Australia


c. 1873


Art Gallery of South Australia



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