Wednesday, September 27, 2006

The Beardsley Collection

Poole Pottery introduced a transfer printed Beardsley collection in 1979, developed by Ros Somerfelt. This was a black and white range based on the works of Aubrey Beardsley (1872 - 1898). Recently it has become extremely popular, perhaps more for the black and white style which is in vogue again rather than the pottery itself. Nevertheless the designs are attractive and I like to have some in my collection.

At auction a few weeks ago, at Sworders in Stansted Mountfitchet, I came across a lot of Beardsley prints which I bought. This has inspired me to learn a bit more about Beardsley and his illustrations.

Beardsley picture, vase and illustrationBeardsley was born in Brighton in 1872, becoming one of the most controversial artists of the Art Nouveau period. He was extremely influential on the Poster Art Movement and other fin de siecle artists, and was also an author.

He mainly created highly detailed black and white pen and ink drawings, some extremely erotic, reflecting the decadence of the age. His work is characterised by random grotesques, such as satyrs and lewd dwarves, depicted alongside sensuous mythical and contemporary figures.

He illustrated books and magazines, notably Thomas Malory's "Le Morte d'Arthur", Alexander Pope's "Rape of the Lock" and the Savoy magazine. He was also a friend of Oscar Wilde and illustrated his French play Salome.

At the age of six, Beardsley contracted tuberculosis, giving him a weak and pallid constitution. His works were produced in just six brief, but extremely prolific, years before he died of the disease in France, at the age of 26. In his final months he converted to catholicism and repented of his earlier eroticism, asking his publisher to destroy "all obscene drawings" (to no avail).

Beardsley box and illustrationsThe Poole Pottery range adapted Beardsley's drawings. On the large vase there is an illustration of "The Stomach Dance" from Oscar Wilde's Salome. Compare this to the original illustration. I also have a bud vase featuring an extract from "Eyes of Herod". More amusingly, the demure ladies featuring on the heart-shaped box are very much toned down from "Lysistrata Haranguing The Athenian Women".

My prints (two of which claim to be genuine 1930's!) are all from "Rape of The Lock", which was one of Beardsley's final works produced when he was virtually bedridden. These images really showcase his fabulously detailed line drawing technique.


Blogger Unknown said...

I have just seen some of these Poole Beardsley pieces and wondering if they are worth the ticket prices. Any estimates on the big jar, lidded jar, small bud type vase?

7:05 am  
Blogger Unknown said...

These aren't worth too much. They tend to go for about $30-$50 each depending on size and condition.

2:05 pm  

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