Although in many ways Aubrey Beardsley can be taken as the English artist most representative of the Aesthetes and Decadents, he always worked as an illustrator, -- which means that he worked in forms that have generally been considered far less prestigious than painting or sculpture. In reaction, Beardsley asserts the importance of his art by several means. First, he makes his works so powerful that they often overshadow the text they accompany, and second, like the Pre-Raphaelites and Tennyson, his illustrations often interpret or comment upon the texts in ways their authors did not always welcome. Finally, as part of his commentary, Beardsley occasionally has his work satirically comment upon text and author, and in so doing he parallels his eighteenth-century poetic precedecessors in moving satire to center stage.

Last modified 1 November 2004