Rare Books

Aubrey Beardsley - A Tribute

The Studio

The Studio, which first appeared in 1893, specifically set out to cater for this new interest in the wider sphere of the arts and in the first issue Joseph Pennell claimed to have discovered a youthful genius:

The drawings here printed show decisively the presence amongst us of an artist whose work is quite as remarkable in its execution as in its invention: a very rare combination.
(J. Pennell, 'A New Illustrator: Aubrey Beardsley', The Studio, vol. 1, no. 1, 1893, p.14. Beardsley was also asked to design the first cover for the periodical.)

Pennell was commenting on Beardsley's illustrations for the lavishly illustrated new publication of Sir Thomas Malory's La Morte D'Arthur which was issued in parts by J. M. Dent and Co. beginning in June 1893 and which made Beardsley's reputation.

It was a task he had been delighted to take on but because of its huge size - it has been estimated he made 362 separate drawings and, including all the designs for full and double-page illustrations, individual borders and the multitude of chapter headings, made no less than 1,095 decorations - he ended up bored with the Middle Ages and loathing the project.

Nonetheless, its vast extent enabled him to work through an early style with its genuflections to Burne-Jones to his own experimental and quite individual style in which he would work entirely in black and white.

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