Saturday, July 12, 2014

Grotesques for Bon Mots by Aubrey Beardsley, 1893-94

At the same time that Aubrey was working on the arduous illustrations for Le Morte d’Arthur, the publisher, JM Dent, had him making these quick little grotesques for a series of books made up of brief quotations from various and variously beloved eighteenth century British wits, such as Richard Brinsley Sheridan, as a kind of respite, in lieu of genuine rest.  In these drawings Beardsley was allowed to let his imagination roam free, as there was no need to provide an illustration of the text, but instead an unrelated visual equivalent of the form, a kind of elegant doodle.  These are photographs of a small sample of the hundreds of such ink drawings he made within a remarkably short span of time.  They are taken from the original drawings that survive, not the photo-reproductions made from them for their first printing, with which Beardsley was somewhat disappointed as so many details were lost in the process and his fine lines muddied.



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