Aubrey Beardsley

October 31, 2009 at 5:13 pm (Uncategorized) (, )


The Battle of the Beaux and the Belles

I think that most people will be familiar with the work of Aubrey Beardsley (1872-98). He managed to cram an incredible lot of work into his tragically short life. Although he didn’t like to be associated with the Decadents, especially after the furore of Oscar Wilde’s   trial. Nonetheless… he so obviously was a Decadent. He famously illustrated Wildes play, Salome, as well as a collection of Arthurian legends, and his distinctive style was much imitated, although no one came close to the dark, erotically charged illustrations that Beardsley produced. I’ve put a few of his lesser-known works here. Above is an incredibly detailed illustration to Pope’s Rape of the Lock.






In this drawing, entitled Dreams, Beardsley foreshadows the Surrealists by at least a decade.


Venus at her Toilet

An illustration to Beardsley’s wonderfully bawdy unfinished short story, Under the Hill, a reworking of the Venus and Tannhauser tale (more on that later).



The Monkey. You’ll find that there are a lot of exposed breasts – and enormous phalluses – in many of Beardsleys less publicised illustrations.



  1. Alys said,

    In the 1960s/1970s, Aubrey Beardsley also makes a rather unexpected appearance as the narrator of an absolutely absurd and surreal movie called “Death Bed: The Bed That Eats.” As an early victim of the bed, his ghost is trapped behind a drawing of his framed and hanging on the wall in the room where the bed is kept, and he’s doomed to watch over the bed over decades before it’s finally destroyed. It’s a thoroughly strange movie, and I’m not entirely sure how I feel about it. I was just so surprised that of all people Aubrey Beardsley was the obvious influence for the narrator!

    • Decadent Handbook said,

      Wow, that sounds amazing! I have to say, I really enjoy weird cinema, so I’ll definitely have to look that one up!

  2. aubrey said,

    I’ve just joined WordPress – so sorry to find this post so late!

    I own a 1915 copy of ‘Under The Hill’ – it’s so wonderfully rude and perfectly written.

    I can get lost in these drawings – following each line and point until I can imagine the living artist creating these masterpieces.

    • Decadent Handbook said,

      Oh, I’d love to own a copy of Under The Hill! I’ve only been able to find it online.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: