Beardsley, Aubrey Vincent

Beardsley, Aubrey Vincent

(ô`brē, bĭrdz`lē), 1872–98, English illustrator and writer, b. Brighton. Beardsley exemplifies the aesthetic movement in English art of the 1890s (see decadentsdecadents,
in literature, name loosely applied to those 19th-century, fin-de-siècle European authors who sought inspiration, both in their lives and in their writings, in aestheticism and in all the more or less morbid and macabre expressions of human emotion.
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). 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).

Beardsley, Aubrey Vincent


Born Aug. 24, 1872, in Brighton; died Mar. 16, 1898, in Menton. English graphic artist.

In numerous illustrations for magazines (The Yellow Book, 1894–95; The Savoy, 1896) and for books (O. Wilde’s Salome, 1894), Beardsley developed the decadent and symbolist art of the late Pre-Raphaelites, combining it with influences from Japanese prints. Beardsley’s refined, fanciful, and often morbid art, with its masterful interplay of silhouette and outline, exhibited many traits characteristic of modern-style graphics.


Sidorov, A. A. Iskusstvo Berdsleia. Moscow, 1926.
Reade, B. Beardsley. [London, 1967.]