Aubrey Beardsley was born on August 21, 1872. Despite dying of tuberculosis at the young age of twenty-five in 1898, the artist managed to have a brilliant career full of controversy and scandal. He shot to fame with his illustrations for Thomas Malory’s Le Morte D’Arthur in 1893, and then became notorious for his illustrations for Oscar Wilde’s Salome (1894).
Recurring images throughout his career follow two seemingly incongruous paths. There is an emphasis on sly, clever wickedness; a youthful disregard for propriety; and an interest in the perverse and profane. Overlapping imagery of melancholia and death lead the second path. These two broad and inconsistent currents each render distinct images of the same artist who was drawn to scandal and associated himself with the 1890s Symbolist crowd often scorned by the arts elite and general public alike.