About us
Artists Aubrey Beardsley
Aubrey Beardsley Photo

Aubrey Beardsley

British Illustrator and Author

Movements and Styles: Art Nouveau, Aesthetic Art, Decadent Movement

Born: August 21, 1872 - Brighton, Sussex, England

Died: March 16, 1898 - Menton, France

Aubrey Beardsley Timeline

Quotes

"An entirely new method of drawing and composition, words fail to describe the quality of the workmanship, the subjects were quite mad and a little indecent. Strange hermaphroditic figures wandering about in Pierrot costumes, or modern dress, quite a new world of my own creation."
Aubrey Beardsley
"I have one aim - the grotesque. If I'm not grotesque I am nothing."
Aubrey Beardsley
"They were extremely fantastic in conception, but perfectly severe in execution."
Aubrey Beardsley
"Strange as it may seem I really draw folks as I see them. Surely it is not my fault that they fall into certain lines and angles."
Aubrey Beardsley
"Beauty is the most difficult of things."
Beardsley, quoted by WB Yeats
"The only artist who, besides myself, knows what the Dance of the Seven Veils is, and can see that invisible dance."
Oscar Wilde about Beardsley
"The most startling appearance in these early nineties was certainly Aubrey Beardsley. I know no one in the whole history of art who made such an impression."
Frank Harris
"There is something macabre and tragic in the fact that one who added another terror to life should have died at the age of a flower."
Oscar Wilde
"The thin, isolated black lines which sweep so voluptuously across the white in some of Beardsley's most famous drawings are a tribute to the process block, which no other illustrator of the 1890s exploited quite so tellingly."
Anthony Clayton
"One of the most exalted results on penmanship in the history of art."
Brian Reade

"People hate to see their darting vices depicted [but] vice is terrible and it should be depicted."

Aubrey Beardsley Signature

Synopsis

Aubrey Beardsley's artistic career was remarkably impactful for its brevity. In the seven years he was able to draw and write before succumbing to tuberculosis, Beardsley developed a reputation as one of the most controversial artists of his time. The linear elegance of his designs coupled with the artist's bizarre sense of humor and fascination with the grotesque and taboo simultaneously intrigued and repelled his Victorian audience. His illustrations comprised characteristics of Aestheticism, Decadence, Symbolism, and, most apparently, Art Nouveau. Beardsley's block prints allowed his work to be easily reproduced and widely circulated. The diabolic beauty of his work and its overwhelming presence in English publishing houses meant that Beardsley quickly became the most influential draftsman of his time.

Key Ideas

More than mere illustrations, Beardsley's images captured the mood of the accompanying text, while aggressively critiquing repressive Victorian concepts of sexuality, beauty, gender roles, and consumerism.
Beardsley's poster art and essay, "The Art of the Hoarding" (1894) changed how the public thought about art and advertising. The two, according to the artist, were not mutually exclusive. His theatre posters manifested his theory and helped revolutionize poster production in Europe and America.
Beardsley borrowed aspects from various artistic movements and adapted them to suit his own purposes. He appropriated the Decadent themes of decay, death, and eroticism to shock viewers out of their complacency; while his delicately interlacing forms and sinuous arabesque lines make his work important in marking the visual shift from the Aesthetic movement to the modern Art Nouveau style.
In addition to his illustrations, Beardsley also composed poems and prose. His later writings were as Decadent as his pictures. Beardsley is best known for Under the Hill, an unfinished erotic novel about Venus and Tannhauser, for which he created the text as well as the accompanying illustrations.

Biography

Aubrey Beardsley Photo

Childhood

Aubrey Vincent Beardsley was an artistic and musical prodigy from an early age. Born to a father who preferred to squander his inheritance rather than adopt a trade, Beardsley's creative prowess helped stave off complete destitution. At age 12 he and his older sister Mabel (who would later become an actress) performed musical duets in a public concert. A witty child with a wicked sense of humour, Beardsley drew caricatures of his grammar school teachers and by age 14 had published his first poem, "The Valiant," as well as a series of sketches titled "The Jubilee Cricket Analysis" in the school's magazine, Past and Present.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Aubrey Beardsley Biography Continues

Influences and Connections

Influences on Artist
Artists, Friends, Movements
Influenced by Artist
Artists, Friends, Movements
Aubrey Beardsley
Interactive chart with Aubrey Beardsley's main influences, and the people and ideas that the artist influenced in turn.
View Influences Chart

Artists

William MorrisWilliam Morris
Henri de Toulouse-LautrecHenri de Toulouse-Lautrec

Personal Contacts

Oscar WildeOscar Wilde
James WhistlerJames Whistler

Movements

Classical ArtClassical Art
JaponismJaponism
Aesthetic ArtAesthetic Art
The Pre-RaphaelitesThe Pre-Raphaelites
Art NouveauArt Nouveau

Influences on Artist
Aubrey Beardsley
Aubrey Beardsley
Years Worked: 1891 - 1898
Influenced by Artist

Artists

Wassily KandinskyWassily Kandinsky
Pablo PicassoPablo Picasso
Charles Rennie MackintoshCharles Rennie Mackintosh

Personal Contacts

Oscar WildeOscar Wilde

Movements

Art NouveauArt Nouveau
SymbolismSymbolism

If you see an error or typo, please:
tell us
Cite this page

Content compiled and written by Jen Farren

Edited and revised, with Synopsis and Key Ideas added by Sandy McCain

" Artist Overview and Analysis". [Internet]. . TheArtStory.org
Content compiled and written by Jen Farren
Edited and revised, with Synopsis and Key Ideas added by Sandy McCain
Available from:
[Accessed ]