The Easel

10th March 2020

David Jenkins discovers the new Aubrey Beardsley exhibition at Tate Britain

Expecting a short life, Beardsley worked feverishly. He took up art at 18, his sensual black and white drawings instantly brilliant. Book illustrations cemented his reputation, their erotic content showing “an attitude to lust and sex that even Egon Schiele is hard pressed to match.” Then death, at 25. There is no lasting Beardsley movement, just his images of “the overheated, decadent days … that were London’s febrile 1890s”

Piranesi Drawings: Visions of Antiquity

Unable to succeed as an architect, Piranesi chose instead to make prints of ancient Roman buildings. Tourists on the Grand Tour loved them, making him the 18th century’s “greatest printmaker”. Architecturally sensible images gradually became towering edifices that Piranesi imagined for ancient Rome. Perhaps their fantasy element explains their lingering influence, like inspiring sets on the Hollywood film Blade Runner.