Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Beardsley, Aubrey Vincent

The Slippers of Cinderella
Indian ink and wash
Private collection
(Beardsley illustration of a beautiful girl with long blond hair in an ornate dress standing out in the nighttime gardens.)

Aubrey Vincent Beardsley (1872 – 1898) was an English illustrator and author. His drawings, done in black ink and influenced by the style of Japanese woodcuts, emphasized the grotesque, the decadent, and the erotic.

He was a leading figure in the Aesthetic movement and his contribution to the development of the Art Nouveau was significant, despite the brevity of his career before his early death from tuberculosis at the age of 25 on 16 March 1898.

Beardsley was a public as well as private eccentric. He said, "I have one aim—the grotesque. If I am not grotesque I am nothing." Oscar Wilde said he had "a face like a silver hatchet, and grass green hair." Beardsley was meticulous about his attire: dove-grey suits, hats, ties; yellow gloves. He would appear at his publisher's in a morning coat and patent leather pumps.
'His work shows a delicate sense of line, and a bold, decorative use of solid blacks, as well as an extraordinarily weird fancy and grotesque imagination, which seems occasionally inclined to run in a morbid direction. Although, as in the case of most artists, one can trace certain influences which have helped in the formation of their style, there can be no doubt of his individuality and power... there appears to be a strong mediaeval decorative feeling, mixed with a curious weird Japanese-like spirit of diablerie and grotesque, as of the opium-dream, about his work...' (Walter Crane 1845-1915)