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Aubrey Beardsley

Aubrey Beardsley, by Walter Sickert, circa 1894 -NPG 1967 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London

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Aubrey Beardsley

by Walter Sickert
Pen and black ink on cream paper, circa 1894
9 1/2 in. x 9 in. (241 mm x 229 mm)
NPG 1967

Inscriptionback to top

Signed in brown ink lower right: ‘Sickert.’

This portraitback to top

Sickert painted a whole-length ‘sketch in distemper’ of Beardsley in July 1894.[1] The first volume of The Yellow Book had been assembled earlier that year and was published in April; Sickert’s sketch was reproduced in the second volume, in July 1894.[2] Beardsley had been nominated The Yellow Book’s art editor and Sickert was one of the first he approached to contribute drawings to the quarterly.[3] Sickert also gave Beardsley his ‘first and last’ lesson in painting and advised him on the ratio of black to white in his drawings; the two men knew each other through New English Art Club circles and from visits to Normandy coastal resorts such as Dieppe in the 1890s.[4]

NPG 1967 is unrelated to the whole-length though it probably belongs to the same year. It is believed to have been drawn in the Beardsleys’ drawing-room at 114 Cambridge Street, Pimlico and (unusually) captures Beardsley in an unselfconscious pose, hunched away from the viewer. Another Cambridge Street drawing by Sickert showing Beardsley seated to the left in a winged armchair, c.1895, is presently untraced.[5]

Carol Blackett-Ord

Footnotesback to top

1) Tate, NO4655; exh. Van Wisselingh’s Dutch Gallery, 1895 (3).
2) Yellow Book, vol.2, July 1894, p.223; Baron 1973, p.307.
3) Maas, Duncan & Good 1971, p.61; and Sturgis 2005, p.212.
4) Baron 1973, p.39; and Sturgis 2005, p.214.
5) Browse 1943, cat.9a, p.38 (ill.). The drawing has been mistaken (Sitwell 1947, p.31) for a Beardsley self-portrait, the word ‘Sickert’ misread as ‘sickest’.

Physical descriptionback to top

Half-length, profile to left, bent over.

Provenanceback to top

Purchased from Messrs Ernest Brown and Phillips, The Leicester Galleries, 1922.

Exhibitionsback to top

Aubrey Beardsley, Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1967; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 1967–8 (484).

The Drawings of Walter Richard Sickert, Art Gallery of Western Australia, Perth, 1979 (8).

From Beardsley to Beaverbrook: Portraits by Walter Richard Sickert, Victoria Art Gallery, Bath, 1990 (9).

Aubrey Beardsley: A Centenary Tribute, Kawasaki City Museum, Kanagawa; Museum of Modern Art, Wakayama; and Museum of Modern Art, Gunma, Japan, 1998 (4).

Reproductionsback to top

Beardsley 1925, pl.6.

Reade 1967, frontispiece.

Maas, Duncan & Good 1971, dustjacket and following p.224.

View all known portraits for Aubrey Vincent Beardsley


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