Aubrey Beardsley

1 portrait by Monsieur Abel

© National Portrait Gallery, London

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Aubrey Beardsley

by Monsieur Abel
collodion printing-out paper print, November 1897
9 1/8 in. x 11 3/8 in. (231 mm x 288 mm) image size
Purchased, 1929
Photographs Collection
NPG x4608

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In November 1897 Beardsley and his mother travelled to Menton in the South of France. This photograph shows Beardsley at the Hotel Cosmopolitan reading in the room in which he died. His mother had filled the room with objects dear to him, including photographs of his beloved sister. The prominence of the crucifix indicates his conversion to Roman Catholicism earlier in the year. Beardsley recorded the taking of this photograph on 3 December 1897, three and a half months before his death, 'I had myself and my room photographed a few days ago. They tell me that they came out splendidly.'

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  • Place made and portrayed: France (Cosmopolitan Hotel, Menton, France)

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Current affairs

Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee is marked by a series of celebratory events, and attended by eleven colonial prime ministers following the Colonial Secretary Joseph Chamberlain's proposal that the Jubilee be made a festival of the British Empire.
The Workmen's Compensation Act gives workmen a right to a limited compensation in every case of injury by accident arising from the course of employment; it is a landmark piece of legislation in employment law.

Art and science

Bram Stoker's Dracula is first published.
Henry Tate of the Tate and Lyle sugar company donates his art collection to the nation, buying land and building a gallery space for it (now Tate Britain).
Physician and psychologist Havelock Ellis publishes the first volume of his Studies in the Psychology of Sex, and the English physicist John Thompson discovers the existence of the electron.


The burning of Benin city by Britain takes place, known also as the Punitive Exhibition of 1897. The excursion, led by Admiral Sir Harry Rawson, was a response to an attack by Benin warriors on a British delegation sent to settle a dispute over customs duties collected by British traders. During the expedition the British Admiralty destroyed much of the city's treasured art, including the Benin Bronzes, auctioning off the rest as war booty to recoup costs.

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