Last modified on 2 June 2014, at 22:20

Aubrey Beardsley

All humanity inspires me … I really draw folk as I see them. Surely it is not my fault that they fall into certain lines and angles.

Aubrey Vincent Beardsley (21 August 187216 March 1898) was an English illustrator whose black-and-white ink drawings influenced the development of the Art Nouveau style.

QuotesEdit

I see everything in a grotesque way.
Things shape themselves before my eyes just as a I draw them.
I think the title page I drew for Salomé was after all "impossible".
  • All humanity inspires me. Every passer-by is my unconscious sitter; and as strange as it may seem, I really draw folk as I see them. Surely it is not my fault that they fall into certain lines and angles.
    • From an interview in the newspaper To-Day (1894), as quoted in Aubrey Beardsley : A Biography (1999) by Matthew Sturgis, p. 200
  • I see everything in a grotesque way. When I go to the theatre, for example, things shape themselves before my eyes just as a I draw them — the people on the stage, the footlights, the queer faces and garb of the audience in the boxes and stalls. They all seem weird and strange to me. Things have always impressed me in this way.
    • From an interview given in 1894, as quoted in Aubrey Beardsley : A Biography (1999) by Matthew Sturgis, p. 220
  • It takes only one man to make an artist, but forty to make an Academician.
  • I’m so affected, that even my lungs are affected.
    • A punnish reference to his tuberculosis and public image as a dandy, as quoted in "In Black and White" edited by Stephen Calloway
  • There was a young man with a salary,
    Who had to do drawings for Malory;
    When they asked him for more,
    He replied, 'Why? Sure
    You've enough as it is for a gallery.'
    • On illustrating Le Mort d'Arthur (1893), as quoted in Aubrey Beardsley : A Biography (1999) by Matthew Sturgis, p. 155
  • I shall not live much longer than did Keats.
    • As quoted in Aubrey Beardsley : A Biography (1999) by Matthew Sturgis, p. 214
  • What is a portrait good for, unless it shows just how the subject was seen by the painter? In the old days before photography came in a sitter had a perfect right to say to the artist: "Paint me just as I am." Now if he wishes absolute fidelity he can go to the photographer and get it.
    • As quoted in Aubrey Beardsley : A Biography (1999) by Matthew Sturgis, p. 189
  • I think the title page I drew for Salomé was after all "impossible". You see booksellers couldn't stick it up in their windows.
    • Letter to Robert Ross, August 1893.
  • Of course, I have one aim, the grotesque. If I am not grotesque I am nothing.
    • In an interview with The Idler (1896), as quoted in Aubrey Beardsley : A Biography (1999) by Matthew Sturgis, p. 309
  • I have always done my sketches, as people would say, for the fun of it... I have worked to amuse myself, and if it has amused the public as well, so much the better for me.
    • In an interview with The Idler (1896), as quoted in Aubrey Beardsley : A Biography (1999) by Matthew Sturgis, p. 309

The Story of a Confession Album (1889)Edit

First published in Tit Bits, no.429 (4 January 1890) also in In Black & White (1998)
The general opinion appears to be that it is very funny to make yourself out as fast or as foolish as possible
  • The general opinion appears to be that it is very funny to make yourself out as fast or as foolish as possible; though even worse than this is the painful orthodoxy of those individuals who claim Shakespeare for their favourite poet, Beethoven for their favourite composer, and Raphael for their favourite painter.

The Art of the Hoarding (1894)Edit

First published in The New Review (July 1894) also in In Black & White (1998)
  • Advertisement is an absolute necessity of modern life, and if it can be made beautiful as well as obvious, so much the better for the makers of soap and the public who are likely to wash.
  • The poster first of all justified its existence on the grounds of utility, and should it further aspire to beauty of line and colour, may not our hoardings claim kinship with the galleries, and the designers of affiches pose proudly in the public eye as the masters of Holland Road or Bond Street Barbizon (and, recollect, no gate money, no catalogue)?
  • What view the bill-sticker and sandwich man take of the subject I have yet to learn. The first is, at least, no bad substitute for a hanging committee, and the clothes of the second are better company than somebody else’s picture, and less obtrusive than a background of stamped magenta paper.
  • One’s ears are weary of the voice of the art teacher who sits like the parrot on his perch, learning the jargon of the studios, making but poor copy and calling it criticism. We have had enough of their omniscience, their parade of technical knowledge, and their predilection for the wrong end of the stick.

Under the Hill and Other Essays (1904)Edit

Full text online
How few of our young English impressionists knew the difference between a palette and a picture!
  • The only place in London where one can forget that it is Sunday.
  • When an Englishman has professed his belief in the supremacy of Shakespeare amongst all poets, he feels himself excused from the general study of literature. He also feels himself excused from the particular study of Shakespeare.
    • Table Talk" p. 63
  • Pope has more virulence and less vehemence than any of the great satirists. His character of Sporus is the perfection of satirical writing. The very sound of words scarify before the sense strikes.
    • Table Talk" p. 64
  • How few of our young English impressionists knew the difference between a palette and a picture! However, I believe that Walter Sickert did — sly dog!
    • Table Talk" p. 64

Quotes about BeardsleyEdit

Alphabetized by author
  • His sketches were numerous and so were his mistakes.
    • Arthur William King, housemaster at Brighton Grammar School, as quoted in Aubrey Beardsley : A Biography (1999) by Matthew Sturgis
  • Oscar loved purple and gold, Aubrey put everything down in black and white. And while every connoisseur declared that line of the artist superb, there were others who deplored that he did not know where to draw it.
    • Ada Leverson, a mutual friend of Beardsley and Oscar Wilde, as quoted in Aubrey Beardsley : A Biography (1999) by Matthew Sturgis, p. 158
  • I see you have a feeling for draperies, and I suggest you cultivate it.
    • William Morris, on seeing one of Beardsley's drawings for the first time and finding it "not pretty enough"; as quoted in Aubrey Beardsley by Stephen Calloway, p. 40.
  • Why, you don't know anything about editing. Neither of you, not even with me, can run a magazine.
  • He was shy, nervous, and self-conscious, without any of the intellectual assurance and ease so characteristic of him eighteen months later when his success was unquestioned.
  • Imitable, Aubrey, imitable, surely.
    • William Rothenstein, in response to Beardsley's assertion that Edward Burne-Jones was "inimitable". He was referring to Beardsley's frequent emulation of the Burne-Jones' style in his early drawings; as quoted in Aubrey Beardsley : A Biography (1999) by Matthew Sturgis, p. 147
  • Superbly premature as the flowering of his genius was, still he had immense development, and had not sounded his last stop. There were great possibilities in the cavern of his soul, and there is something macabre and tragic in the fact that one who added another terror to life should have died at the age of a flower.
    • Oscar Wilde, as quoted in Aubrey Beardsley by Stephen Calloway, p. 15

External linksEdit

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