The barbarian princess, swooning in the bathing pool, commits the sacrilege of fondling the Muslim's beard in one hand, while holding the sacred lotus flower in the other hand - perhaps the very flower that has intoxicated her. In her sensual lethargy she merges the profane with the sacred, while laying in the lap of the prophetess who joins water with fire.
The image itself is derived from the H. Rider Haggard novel, "World's Desire" (1890), in which the unfortunate Hataska, vying for the affection of a Pharoah, is poisoned by his queen.
Image taken from page 104 of '[The World's Desire.]'Collection of the British Library.
View illustration on British Library's Flickr Photostream
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