b. 1872 Brighton, Great Britain, d. 1898 Menton, France
"I seldom or never advise anyone to take up art as a profession, but in your case I can do nothing else," another artist told Aubrey Beardsley upon seeing his work in 1891. From a young age, Beardsley displayed a natural aptitude for drawing. Despite little formal training, he devoted his energies to art and produced drawings that revealed broad influences including Greek vase-painting, Japanese prints, French Rococo decoration, and the paintings of Andrea Mantegna. Embarking upon a brief yet brilliant career, Beardsley received a commission to illustrate a new edition of the King Arthur legend in 1893. The following year he became the art editor and illustrator of a new quarterly journal, The Yellow Book. Beardsley's illustrations for Oscar Wilde's celebrated play Salomé earned him his greatest professional acclaim, but his professional association with the flamboyant Wilde led to dismissal from the journal. Beardsley quickly rebounded, however, and became principal illustrator of another new magazine. During this period he also illustrated numerous books and composed poetry and prose. Aware that he was dying of tuberculosis, Beardsley pushed himself to explore new psychological and erotic realms. Ill from the age of seven, he died in Paris at twenty-five.