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27 Nov 2008

: Aubrey Beardsley :

Aubrey Beardsley (21 August 1872 – 16 March 1898) was an English illustrator and author. His drawings are characterized by an erotic nature that propelled England into the 20th century.


Beardsley later converted to Catholicism, and would subsequently beg his publisher to “destroy all copies of Lysistrata and bad drawings...by all that is holy all obscene drawings."


Fortunately for us historical art lovers, his publisher ignored him. Ah, the good ol' mercantile greed.

My favourite of his, artistically speaking, are not the erotica ones though.

His erotic illustrations, as well as the dark and perverse images made him one of the most controversial artists of the Art Nouveau era. I'm interested in creatives who push the status quo. Amongst his extensive illustrations for books and magazines, he illustrated Oscar Wilde's play Salome.

The BBC made a drama Aubrey, following his later life. I couldn't find a video or further information about it. If you know of any sources, let me know.



  1. Hey, publishers know what sells! I love Aubrey Beardsley too. Truly a unique artist with a unique style.

  2. I grew up in a house decorated with Beardsley art. As a small child I used to sit and gaze at them for ages, tracing every delicate beautiful surreal line. I can still see those lines tracing through my writing, decades later. We had a large framed version of the second to last of your samples on our lounge wall, among others.

  3. I have always loved the Salome stuff, as well as Le Morte D'Arthur too. I can't help with sources - even though, frustratingly I unearthed some a few years back. Can't for the life of me remember them now.
    I'm noticing a lot of influence and imitation of Beardsley right now (well, if prints on Etsy are anything to go by). Gothic crossed with Art Nouveau, but way too cutesy and not genuinely dark enough for my liking. Sounds as though Beardsley may have found his own art not only "immoral" post conversion, but may been confronted by its darkness.

  4. Sarah - how marvelous! He isn't particularly a favourite of mine, but his works do trigger something dark and dep, and that sure is something to grow up with.

    That's interesting about the current influence Nettles. I like your idea about him being confronted by his own darkness and imagine that would be just the thing that caused him the most anxiety.