Aubrey Beardsley

Design for the Frontispiece to John Davidson’s Plays

1894

Artist
Aubrey Beardsley 1872–1898
Medium
Ink and graphite on paper
Dimensions
Support: 286 x 187 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Bequeathed by John Lane 1926
Reference
N04172

Not on display

Display caption

This does not apparently show a scene from one of Davidson's plays, but is instead a series of caricatures of notable figures of the day. At the centre, the cloaked figure is Sir Augustus Harris, the manager of the Covent Garden, Drury Lane and Her Majesty's theatres. A corpulent Oscar Wilde is portrayed as Bacchus, and beside him the nude woman is Beardsley's sister Mabel, an actress. The faun is Henry Harland, literary editor of the 'Yellow Book', the masked figure is the poet Richard Le Gallienne, and the ballerina is the dancer Adeline Genee.

Gallery label, August 2004

Catalogue entry

N04172 DESIGN FOR THE FRONTISPIECE TO JOHN DAVIDSON'S PLAYS 1894
 
Inscr. with Japanesque mark b.r.
Pencil and Indian ink, 11 1/4×7 3/4 (28·5×18·75).
Bequeathed by John Lane 1926.
Coll: John Lane.
Exh: Tate Gallery, 1923–4 (33); on loan to the Tate Gallery, 1924–6.
Lit: Vallance in Fifty Drawings, 1897, p.209; Under the Hill, 1904, pp.ix–x and 70, repr. p.73; Vallance in Ross, 1909, p.90, No.88; Macfall, 1928, p.58; Best of Beardsley, 1948, No.16, repr.
Repr: Early Work, 1899, pl.88; Ross, 1909, facing p.26; Later Work, 1920 ed., pl.3.

The design for the frontispiece to the Plays of John Davidson, published by Elkin Mathews and John Lane about April 1894. The figures are caricatures of well-known people of the day: from left to right, Mabel Beardsley, the artist's sister, an actress; Henry Harland, literary editor of The Yellow Book; Oscar Wilde, the author and wit; Sir Augustus Harris, manager of the Covent Garden, Drury Lane and Her Majesty's Theatres; Richard Le Gallienne, the poet and essayist; and Adeline Genée, the dancer.

Published in:
Mary Chamot, Dennis Farr and Martin Butlin, The Modern British Paintings, Drawings and Sculpture, London 1964, I

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