Aubrey Beardsley’s The Dream and The Battle of the Beaux and Belles for the Salome of Oscar Wilde’s The Rape of the Lock by Alexander Pope and The Peacock Skirt. Photograph: J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, University of Birmingham, Barber Institute of Fine Arts, 2019 and Tate.
The exhibition will demonstrate that the artist has a wider range than the simple black and white line drawings that he is known for.
Aubrey Beardsley’s work is still famous on postcards and posters 120 years after the end of his short life.
But next year’s new London show at Tate Britain aims to prove that Beardsley as an illustrator and graphic artist had more than one trick.
For the first time since they were made in 1897, five of the artist’s original illustrations in Alexander Pope’s poem The Rape of the Lock are to be seen together as part of the largest exhibition of his work in Britain for over 50 years.
“He had so many more styles and artistic influences than people recognize him for today,” said this weekend curator Caroline Corbeau-Parsons.
“When you see the detailed lace on these sketches, it’s obvious that he could work in various styles We’re all familiar with his illustrations for Oscar Wilde’s play Salome, the elongated black-and-white figures, but this show will change the way people think of Beardsley.” he added.
His stunning black and white illustrations for the satirical poem are considered one of his finest works, demonstrating that he was as capable of delicate detail as he was of elegant simplicity.
But Beardsley himself couldn’t see any of them hanging in a gallery together. The artist guarded his work and passed directly on his drawings to publishers or close friends.
From there, they frequently went to American private collections and university collections and are now fragile. They’re rarely displayed as a result.
Beardsley, who was born in Brighton in 1872 and died of tuberculosis at the age of 25, titillated late-Victorian London with decadent scenes portrayed in his sinuous black and white ink lines, also displaying Japanese graphic art’s strong influence. But that was just part of the story.
In just a few months, while in poor health, he completed a total of ten opulent drawings and a cover design for The Rape of the Lock Tate Britain will display in one gallery five of the originals along with some of the French copper engravings from the 18th century that inspired the work.
Among more than 200 works brought together for the exhibition, which begins on March 4, are the reunited drawings.


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