Aubrey Beardsley’s ‘Albert in Search of His Ideals’

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What dandy wouldn’t appreciate Aubrey Beardley’s 1897 comic work? The title of the illustration indicates dear Albert will find his niche sooner or later, but right now he’s taking caricatural cues from both lady and ancient gentleman in the backdrop. His ensemble begs for the precision styling of Regency fops and calls to mind quips by Oscar Wilde (Beardsley illustrated some of Wilde’s novels and was member of the Aesthetic movement with the writer).

What do you think of Beardsley’s grotesque dandy? The illustrator was known to push the limits of eroticism and decadence, relying on polarities for dramatic effect. He liked to scandalize, but was also, somewhat ironically, clinging to a precipice of traditional authority. Beardsley died at 25 from tuberculosis, leaving art enthusiasts to speculate on the sublimity he might’ve accomplished through maturation, but his youthful body of work is impressive. He was definitely a unique talent.

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