Aubrey Beardsley: Artist and Aesthete
Past display archive
14 July 2015 - 30 September 2016
Room 29: case display
by Frederick Henry Evans
A focus on the illustrator and writer, Aubrey Beardsley (1872-1898). In a short life of intense and fevered activity, Beardsley produced many original and highly-finished black-and-white drawings for process block reproduction. His designs were frequently grotesque, morbid and erotic and include illustrations of Alexander Pope's Rape of the Lock (1895) and Oscar Wilde's Salome (1894). He was also art editor for The Yellow Book (1894–5) and, with Arthur Symons, produced The Savoy (1896). Beardsley was known for his elegance, charm and witty conversation and became a cult figure of the decadent aesthetic movement. He became embroiled in the scandal surrounding Oscar Wilde’s arrest for committing ‘indecent acts’ and in 1895 was sacked from the Yellow Book, after which he fled to France. Beardsley died of tuberculosis, which had plagued him since his youth, on 16 March 1898 aged only twenty-five.
© National Portrait Gallery, London