Aubrey Beardsley was born on 21 August, 1872, in Brighton, England. The family, of middle and upper middle class origins, was often nearly destitute. He attended Bristol Grammar School for four years as a boarder, indulging in his talents by drawing caricatures of his teachers.
In February of 1893, Wilde’s scandalous play Salome was published in its original French version. An illustration inspired by the drama was admired by Wilde and Beardsley was commissioned to Illustrate the English edition (1894).
Not content with art alone, Beardsley expressed an intense desire to translate the French text after Wilde found the translation by his intimate, Lord Alfred Douglas, to be unsatisfactory. This assignment was the beginning of celebrity but also of an uneasy, and at times unpleasant, friendship with Wilde, which officially ended when Wilde was tried and convicted of sodomy in 1895.
Beardsley’s fame was established for all time when the first volume The Yellow Book appeared in April 1894. This famous quarterly of art and literature, for which Beardsley served as art editor and the American expatriate Henry Harland as literary editor, brought the artist’s work to a larger public.
It was Beardsley’s starling black-and-white drawings, titlepages, and covers which, combined with the writings of the so-called “decadents,” a unique format, and publisher John Lane’s remarkable marketing strategies, made the journal an overnight sensation. Although well received by much of the public, The Yellow Book was attacked by critics as indecent. So strong was the perceived link between Beardsley, Wilde, and The Yellow Book that Beardsley was dismissed in April 1895 from his post as art editor following Wilde’s arrest, even though Wilde had in fact never contributed to the magazine.
The film After Beardsley attempts to depict today’s world through Beardsley’s eyes and in his drawing style. Showing Beardsley’s better known drawings, some of which take on a different guise later in the film. Written and drawn by Chris James.