Aubrey Vincent Beardsley lived from 1872 until 1898. Because of his untimely demise due to tuberculosis, he has been referred to as the tragic genius of Art Nouveau. His pen and ink drawings that pulled their inspiration from Japanese shunga wood block prints were dynamic in their sense of design. Often his work emphasized the grotesque, the decadent, and the erotic. Some of his work featured enormous genitalia. His most famous erotic artwork was done for a privately printed edition of Aristophanes’ “Lysistrata” and for Oscar Wilde’s play “Salome”. After his conversion to Catholicism he begged his publishers to destroy the “Lysistrata” illustrations and his other erotic works. His publisher ignored his requests.
Beardsley also illustrated many books and magazines. He illustrated a deluxe edition of Sir Thomas Malory’s “Le Morte d’Arthur” and worked for such magazines as The Studio and The Savoy. His work influenced the French Symbolists, the Poster art Movement of the 1890s, and many other Art Nouveau artists.