Aubrey Beardsley (1872-1898) was only twenty-five when he died from tuberculosis, but in his short life he established a reputation as one of the most accomplished—and controversial—illustrators of his day. Astonishingly, all his work was created in the course of only six years, yet his contribution to the visual language of Art Nouveau was profound; today, his work is instantly recognizable for its use of black ink and flowing lines on white paper, along with its erotically charged subject matter. Not all his work was sexually provocative—much was satirical, attacking the decadent mores of the time—but some was and remains shocking, taking its stylistic inspiration from Japanese shunga and Greek vase painting and its thematic inspiration from mythology, history, poetry, and drama.
This beautifully designed, accessibly priced book offers a wealth of illustrations by Beardsley, and introduces his exquisitely crafted drawings and prints to a new audience. Including a fascinating text by Jan Marsh, Aubrey Beardsley brings together a carefully curated selection of works from Beardsley’s tragically short but highly productive life.
Jan Marsh is a writer and curator who specializes in the Victorian period and the author of biographies of Christina and Dante Gabriel Rossetti, coeditor of the letters of Jane Morris, former president of the William Morris Society, and curator of “Black Victorians in British Art” and “Pre-Raphaelite Sisters” (National Portrait Gallery, London, 2019).