15 November 2009

Beautiful Decadence: The Illustrations of Aubrey Beardsley


Aubrey Vincent Beardsley (1872-1898) the English artist, illustrator and writer may be most remembered for his erotic work. Influenced by the sexually explicit Japanese woodblock prints known as Shuga he illustrated the classical play Lysistrata. Through Beardsley's friendship with the Pre-Raphaelite painter, Edward Burne-Jones he met Oscar Wilde who commissioned him to illustrate his scandalous play Salome.

More restrained images included his Pre-Raphaelite inspired drawings of Sir Thomas Malory's Le Morte D'Arthur and cosmopolitan illustrations for The Yellow Book and The Savoy. Suffering from tuberculosis Beardsley converted to Roman Catholicism the year before he died and begged his publisher Leonard Smithers to destroy what he now considered obscene work. Fortunately Smithers ignored him and the artist died at the age of twenty-six leaving behind the legacy of his creative genius.

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