Beardsley, Aubrey Vincent

Beardsley, Aubrey Vincent ôˈbrē, bĭrdzˈlē [key], 1872–98, English illustrator and writer, b. Brighton. Beardsley exemplifies the aesthetic movement in English art of the 1890s (see decadents). In his short working span of only six years, he developed a superbly artificial and graphic manner, expressed in flat, linear, black-and-white designs. His works were by turns erotic and cruel in emphasis. The art editor of the famous Yellow Book quarterly (1894–96), Beardsley also edited and contributed some of his best work to Leonard Smithers's periodical, The Savoy, and illustrated many books including Wilde's Salomé (1894), Pope's Rape of the Lock (1896), Aristophanes' Lysistrata (privately pub., 1896), and Jonson's Volpone (1898). His fiction, distinguished by an elaborate and erudite prose style, was collected and published in 1904 as Under the Hill. Criticized for the erotic character of his work and condemned for his association with Oscar Wilde, Beardsley fell from public favor. Ravaged by tuberculosis, he died at the age of 25.

See his Early Works (1899, repr. 1967) and Later Works (1901, repr. 1967); L. G. Zatlin, Aubrey Beardsley: A Catalogue Raisonné (2 vol., 2016); his letters, ed. by J. L. Duncan and W. G. Good (1970); biography by M. Sturgis (1999); study by B. Reade (1967).

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