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Aubrey Beardsley

6 of 8 portraits of Aubrey Beardsley

© National Portrait Gallery, London

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Aubrey Beardsley

by Jacques-Emile Blanche
oil on canvas, 1895
36 1/2 in. x 29 in. (926 mm x 737 mm) overall
Purchased, 1923
Primary Collection
NPG 1991

On display in Room 19 on Floor 2 at the National Portrait Gallery

Sitterback to top

Artistback to top

  • Jacques-Emile Blanche (1861-1942), Painter and writer. Artist or producer associated with 8 portraits, Sitter in 3 portraits.

Linked publicationsback to top

  • Smartify image discovery app
  • 100 Fashion Icons, p. 122
  • Blanche, Jacques-Emile, Portraits of a lifetime : the late Victorian era, the Edwardian pageant, 1870-1914, 1937, p. 93
  • Ribeiro, Aileen, The Gallery of Fashion, 2000, p. 193
  • Ribeiro, Aileen; Blackman, Cally, A Portrait of Fashion: Six Centuries of Dress at the National Portrait Gallery, 2015, p. 193
  • Royal Academy of Arts, Post impressionism : cross currents in European painting, 1979 (accompanying the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery from 1979-1980), p. 46 number 25
  • Royal Society of Portrait Painters (formerly Society of Portrait Painters), Catalogue of the 5th Annual Exhibition, 1895, 1895 (accompanying the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery from 1895), p. typescript number 10
  • Saywell, David; Simon, Jacob, Complete Illustrated Catalogue, 2004, p. 41
  • Simon, Jacob, The Art of the Picture Frame: Artists, Patrons and the Framing of Portraits in Britain, 1997 (accompanying the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery from 8 November 1996 - 9 February 1997), p. 181 Read entry

    Gilt oak, mitred and pinned, the gilding directly onto oak prepared with a warm-toned size. 3 1⁄ 2 inches wide.

    Beardsley sat to the French portrait painter, Jacques-Emile Blanche, at Dieppe in the summer of 1895. In September he wrote to William Rothenstein asking for help at very short notice with the frame: 'Dear Billy, J. E. Blanche is sending two pictures to the forthcoming exhibition of portraits [arranged by the Society of Portrait Painters] at the New Gallery. He has no time to get frames made in Dieppe so would you order Chapman to make frame AT ONCE …’.1 Beardsley enclosed four lengths of string, two to give the measurements for the larger picture, which in the event was not exhibited, and two smaller lengths for his own portrait. He penned a diagram for the large picture showing a frame with 'fluting' running along the sides and circular 'buttons' at the corners, to be of 'plain oak gilded', adding, 'The frame for my portrait an ordinary Watts frame - gilded (and glazed)'.

    Beardsley's portrait was purchased by the National Portrait Gallery in its present gilt oak frame in 1923. Rothenstein may have ignored Beardsley's request for a Watts frame, preferring a simpler plain oak, or he may have found that it was not possible to get a Watts frame made to a non-stock size in the very limited time available. 'Chapman' is presumably Chapman Bros of 251 King's Road, Chelsea, a leading firm of framemakers in business from 1875 to 1922 or later, and widely patronised by artists.

    1 Henry Maas, J. L. Duncan and W. G. Good (eds.), The Letters of Aubrey Beardsley, 1970, pp 100-1.

Events of 1895back to top

Current affairs

Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest is first performed, the same year that he is imprisoned for homosexual offences following accusations made against him by the eighth Marquess of Queensbury. Whilst in prison, Wilde wrote De Profundis, a letter addressed to his former lover, Queensbury's son Lord Alfred Douglas, attacking him for his role in Wilde's imprisonment.
Prime Minister Lord Rosebery resigns and is succeeded by Salisbury.

Art and science

The Lumiere brothers hold the first public screening of movies at Paris's Salon Indien du Grand Café, featuring ten short films recorded with Leon Bouly's cinematographe device, recognised as the birth of cinema as a commercial medium.
Henry Irving, the celebrated actor and theatre manager, becomes the first actor to receive a knighthood.


In South Africa, prompted by the growing unrest of unfranchised British immigrants (Uitlanders) drawn to the Transvaal by the discovery of gold, Rhodes and other members of the South African mining community begin to plot the republic's overthrow. As a result, the disastrous Jameson Raid takes place, carried out on Paul Kruger's Transvaal Republic by Leander Starr Jameson and his Rhodesian and Bechuanaland policemen: it fails to bring about an Uitlander uprising.

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