Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Aubrey Beardsley – part 1

This is an update, enlargement, and replacement of a much earlier blog post on the works of Aubrey Beardsley.

Aubrey Beardsley (1872 – 1898) was born in 1872 in Brighton, England. Beardsley’s health was always fragile - he had his first reported attack of tuberculosis at the age of nine - the disease which was to reduce him to an invalid several times and finally cause his death. When in 1884 his mother became too ill to care for him and his sister, they were both packed off to live with an aunt nearby. He attended Bristol Grammar School for four years as a boarder, indulging in his talents by drawing caricatures of his teachers. In 1889, he was sent to London as a clerk in an insurance office. His recovered mother soon followed and remained to nurse her son for the rest of his short life.

Beardsley first published work was “The Valiant,” a poem in the June 1885 issue of Past and Present, the Brighton Grammar School magazine. Two years later his first reproduced drawings, a series of sketches, “The Jubilee Cricket Analysis,” appeared in the same journal.

1887 The Jubilee Cricket Analysis
He also provided the program book illustrations for "The Pay of the Pied Piper," his School's 1888 Christmas entertainment. 

1888 The Pay of the Pied Piper

1888 The Pay of the Pied Piper
The years 1893-94 were perhaps the most important in Beardsley's career. He was hard at work producing illustrations and covers for books and periodicals, including his first commission, J. M. Dent's edition of Malory's Le Morte d’Arthur. This massive work, issued first in 12 parts and later in volume form, contained over 300 different illustrations, chapter headings, and vignettes. Also in 1893 the artist formed an alliance with the person who was to catapult him to fame and prove his downfall - Oscar Wilde.

In February of 1893, Wilde's scandalous play Salome was published in its original French version. An illustration inspired by the drama, reproduced in an article in the first edition of The Studio, was admired by Wilde, and Beardsley was commissioned 50 guineas to illustrate the English edition (1894).

Beardsley's fame was established when the first volume of The Yellow Book appeared in April 1894. This famous quarterly of art and literature, for which Beardsley served as art editor, brought his work to a larger public. It was Beardsley's startling black-and-white drawings combined with the writings of the so-called "decadents," a unique format, and publisher John Lane's remarkable marketing strategies, made the journal an overnight sensation. Although well received by much of the public, The Yellow Book was attacked by critics as indecent. So strong was the perceived link between Beardsley, Wilde, and The Yellow Book that Beardsley was dismissed in April 1895 from his post as art editor following Wilde's arrest, even though Wilde had in fact never contributed to the magazine.

Soon after he was let go from The Yellow Book, Beardsley was approached by Leonard Smithers, a publisher intent on creating a rival periodical. Though (or perhaps because) Smithers was known for publishing pornography and erotica, Beardsley jumped at the chance, and so The Savoy was created, with Arthur Symons as editor. Beardsley found in The Savoy an outlet for his writings as well as art. “Under the Hill” and “The Ballad of a Barber” both appeared in numbers of The Savoy. When publication ceased in 1896, Beardsley continued to illustrate other authors' works for Smithers. Among these volumes were editions of Pope's The Rape of the Lock, Ben Jonson's Volpone, and The Lysistrata of Aristophanes). Smithers also issued Beardsley's own A Book of Fifty Drawings, the first collected album of his work.

In the hope that the climate might improve his deteriorated condition Beardsley followed doctor's advice and travelled to the south of France. He died in 1898 in France at the age of 25.

This is part 1of a 7-part post on the works of Aubrey Beardsley:

1891 (attributed to) The Litany of Mary Magdalen graphite on paper 22.7 x 16.9 cm

1891 Hail Mary first published in The Studio 1898

1892 Vignette Design for "Bon Mots" ink and graphite 10 x 8.2 cm

1892 Aubrey Beardsley Self-Portrait pen and wash 25 x 9.5 cm
Beardsley went to night classes at the Westminster School of Art under Professor Brown for three months in the summer of 1892. For Fred Brown, one of the founder-members of the New English Art Club. The style of the drawing shows the influence of Whistler, whose Peacock Room is imitated in the decoration of the wall. Beardsley acknowledged this influence by incorporating in the design a peacock feather and Whistler's ‘Butterfly’ signature.

1892 Professor Fred Brown graphite and ink on paper 25.4 x 25.4 cm

1892-96 From Juvenal's VI Satire & Lucian's True History:

Juvenal: Frontispiece

Juvenal: Dreams graphite, ink and white gouache 15.6 x 11.7 cm

Juvenal: A Snare of Vintage ink 19.8 x 14.4 cm

Juvenal: Bathyllus Taking the Pose

Juvenal: Bathyllus in the Swan Dance

Juvenal: Birth from the Calf of the Leg
Juvenal: Juvenal Scourging Woman

Juvenal: Lucians Strange Creatures 12.7 x 22.9 cm

Juvenal: Messalina Returning from the Bath

Juvenal: The Scarlet Pastorale graphite and ink 27.1 x 18.8 cm

Juvenal: Messalina and her Companion graphite, ink wash and watercolour 27.9 x 17.8 cm

Juvenal: A Snare of Vintage

c1892 Katharina Klafsky as Isolde pen and ink and wash

1892-98 (attributed to) Decorative Study - Satyr pen and ink 12.4 x 8.7 cm

1892-98 (attributed to) Decorative Study - Two Angels pen and ink, brush and wash 14.3 x 9.6 cm

1892-98 Crouching Midget pen and ink 9.7 x 6.7 cm

1892-98 Madame Réjane pen and brush and ink 22.4 x 14 cm

1892-98 Man with Skull pen and ink 8.6 x 7.6 cm

1892-98 (attributed to) Decorative Study - Woman with Sunflowers pen and ink, brush and wash 12.8 x 8.5 cm

1892-98 Portrait of Whistler in Spanish 17th Century Costume pen and ink

1893 After Sandro Botticelli (Alessandro Filipepi) graphite on paper 35.5 x 20 cm

1893 Cover for Pastor Sang by  Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson

1893 Evalina Front Cover

1893 Evalina Title Page

1893 Evalina and her Guardian

1893 Frontispiece for "Virgilius the Sorcerer pen and brush and ink 23.3 x 14.3 cm

1893 Grotesque in Bon-Mots of Foote and Hook

1893 Grotesque in Bon-Mots of Foote and Hook

1893 Grotesque in Bon-Mots of Foote and Hook

1893 Grotesque in Bon-Mots of Foote and Hook

1893 Pierrot and Cat, from St. Paul's

1893 Incipit Vita Nova pen and ink and wash 20.3 x 19.7 cm

1893 From Salome:

Salome: Design for the cover of Salome

Salome: Cover of Salome

Salome: Title Page graphite and ink 22.6 x 17.2 cm

Salome: The Woman in the Moon graphite and ink 23 x 16.5 cm

Salome: The Peacock Skirt graphite and ink 23 x 16.8 cm

Salome: The Black Cape 15.9 x 22.4 cm

Salome: A Platonic Lament

Salome: Enter Herodias ink 23.2 x 17 cm

Salome: The Eyes of Herod graphite and ink 22.9 x 16.9 cm

Salome: The Stomach Dance graphite and ink 22.6 x 16.6 cm

Salome: The Toilet of Salome pen and ink 22.7 x 16.2 cm

Salome: The Toilet of Salome

Salome: Border Design graphite and ink 24 x 19.7 cm

Salome: The Dancer's Reward graphite and ink 23 x 16.5 cm

Salome: John and Salome graphite and ink 23.3 x 16.4 cm

Salome: The Climax

Salome: The Climax ink and green wash

Salome: Salome on Settle graphite and ink 23 x 16.4 cm

Salome: The Burial of Salome tailpiece, graphite and ink 16.4 x 17.4 cm

1893 Servant Carrying Slippers on a Tray ink on paper

1893 The Kiss of Judas ink 22 x 31.4 cm

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