Aubrey Beardsley the Great Erotic Illustrator
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Aubrey Beardsley the Great Erotic Illustrator

Aubrey Beardsley was best known for his erotic illustrations in the late 1800's.

Aubrey Vincent Beardsley was an illustrator best known for his erotic and fantastically beautiful black ink illustrations in the late 1800’s. His artwork is reminiscent of the artwork in very early Greek urns with white backgrounds and black figures. Beardsley was born in Brighton, England on August 21, 1872 and died in France on March 16, 1898 at the tender age of 25 from tuberculosis. His artwork was influenced by Japanese woodcuts known as moku hanga. Beardsley was a leader in the aesthetic movement of his time and followed the art nouveau movement of his time. His illustrations portrayed themes of the erotic, unbridled lust and grotesque deformities of the genitalia.                                                          

At age 6 or 9 he was diagnosed with TB and his mother cared for him throughout his life until his death. It seems he had a strong bond with his sister and mother and his sexuality was often in question. He had a lifelong incestuous affair with his sister Mabel and she had a miscarriage of his child at one point. Both Aubrey and his sister were child musical and artistic prodigies, their mother began their training early in music and books. By the age of 7 when Aubrey was sent to boarding school he was tremendously well read.

In 1891he met Edward Burne-Jones, an acclaimed artist, who took an interest in Aubrey’s paintings and encouraged him to attend the Westminster School of Art. He had a very natural talent and in 1892 he was commissioned to illustrate Sir Thomas Mallory’s Le Morte d’ Arthur. In 1893 he was doing illustrations for “The Studio” a fine arts magazine and “The Yellow Book” a quarterly literary periodical. This new found acclaim brought him to the attention of Oscar Wilde, the outlandishly eccentric and homosexual playwright, who had asked Aubrey to illustrate the play “Salome” for him. Wilde simply adored Beardsley but even this adoration was no match for what Wilde saw when presented with the illustrations for his play. Wilde felt that Beardsley’s illustrations would over shadow the play, thus feeling artistic jealousy.                                                           

The friendship with Wilde would dissolve in 1895 after Wilde was arrested and convicted of sodomy and Beardsley was fires from “The Yellow Book” as the art editor for his association with Oscar Wilde. The criticism of his work, however, continued. His work was called indecent and licentious because of his portrayal of sexually empowered women and emasculation of men. He was then hired by Leonard Smithers to illustrate for “The Savoy”. He also illustrated Aristophanes “Lystrata” and in 1896 Alexander Pope’s “The Rape of the Lock”. Aubrey Beardsley continued to produce illustrations until his death in 1898, even through horrid bouts of violent hemorrhaging in his lungs from TB. 

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Comments (3)

An art work

An interesting read on quite a controversial life.

Ranked #19 in Art & Art History

Thankyou...Peace Jaz