Fancy heading to an exhibition that’s just a little bit different? This month, Shapero Rare Books on New Bond Street will be displaying a collection of works by renowned draughtsman and illustrator Aubrey Beardsley.
You may not have heard of Beardsley but his decadent monochrome drawings have an instantly recognisable style. His works explore the outlandish, the comical, the stylish and the erotic. The collection on display will include some of Beardsley’s most important works. It will feature some early drawings, and of course, rare books. The collection is nearly one hundred years old, yet it remains in exceptional condition.
Perhaps one of the highlights of this new display is Aubrey Beardsley’s magnum opus, Le Morte d’Arthur. This rare edition of the Arthurian legend features epic and beautiful renderings of the story of Arthur’s death. Beardsley incorporates aestheticism, eroticism and the spirit of the Decadent movement, to create a wonderfully visual and tactile work.
The exhibition will also include a rare illustrated first edition of Oscar Wilde’s Salome. And you’ll find that Wilde himself makes a cameo in several of Beardsley’s illustrations.
The last work ever undertaken by Beardsley, was to be an illustrated edition of Ben Jonson’s 17th-century satirical work Volpone, or The Fox. Beardsley should have created 25 designs but sadly he only completed one full-page illustration. Volpone Adoring his Treasure was used as the frontispiece for the edition, and it’s widely considered to be one of Beardsley’s greatest works. The artist himself called it ‘one of the strongest things I have ever done’.
The collection being exhibited this month at Shapero Rare Books, was created by Rainforth Armitage Walker (born 1886). Walker’s collection of drawings formed the basis of the National Gallery’s 1923-24 Beardsley exhibition. Walker passed his collection onto friend and fellow collector W. G. Good. Good carried on expanding the collection, which featured in the V&A’s 1966 Beardsley exhibition.
Fancy exploring more exhibitions? Here’s a few ideas!
When: From 13th May 2021
Where: Shapero Rare Books, 105 and 106 New Bond Street, Mayfair, London,
More info: shapero.com