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• • • Being a journal by artist and designer John Coulthart, cataloguing interests, obsessions and passing enthusiasms.


“Weirdsley Daubery”: Beardsley and Punch


Britannia à la Beardsley by ET Reed (1895).

Pickings grow slim for the dedicated Beardsleyphile after you’ve bought a few books. Despite his prolific career, Aubrey B was dead at 25 and the better collections of his work, especially Brian Reade’s essential monograph, Beardsley (1967), tend to contain almost his entire corpus, juvenilia and all. So you find yourself seeking out the work of his imitators, his successors, and even the weak but not altogether unsuccessful “Nichols” fakes from the 1920s.


Yellow Book parody by ET Reed (1895).

As well as being widely-imitated during his brief lifetime, Beardsley’s work came under fire from the writers and artists at Punch who’d already spent nearly a decade throwing barbs at Oscar Wilde and his circle. “Weirdsley Daubery” was one of a number of plays on Beardsley’s name; “Danby Weirdsley” and “Mortarthurio Whiskerley” were others. The art parodies are mentioned frequently in appraisals but one rarely gets to see examples of them so it’s good to find a couple of websites that have a decent selection. Beardsley’s style was so distinctive it was very easy for the Punch artists to caricature and at least a couple of these are better than the younger artists who were dedicating themselves to copying his work. ET Reed—who seems to have produced the majority of the drawings—and Linley Sambourne were two of the artists involved.


Quid Est Pictura – Veritas Falsa by unidentified artist (1894).

The best copies can be found two thirds down this page. Nice that they give the issue details as well. I’ve seen bound copies of Punch for 1894 and 1895 on many occasions but didn’t realise there was so much Beardsleyesque work in them; now I know what to look out for.

Elsewhere on { feuilleton }
The illustrators archive

Previously on { feuilleton }
Lussuria, Invidia, Superbia
Alla Nazimova’s Salomé



Posted in {art}, {beardsley}, {black and white}, {illustrators}, {magazines}.

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5 comments or trackbacks

  1. #1 posted by Thombeau


    My favorite Beardsley quote: “Even my teeth are a little phallic.”

  2. #2 posted by John


    Heh, yes. And he made the point in one of his self-portraits where he has a very phallic haircut:


  3. #3 posted by Mythicalbeast


    Here are a couple of other AVB fakes I found this morning, along with a brief article. Never seen the Wilde or Whistler ones before, but the other two are fairly well known.


  4. #4 posted by John


    Yes, there were about twenty or so in the Nichols set, many of which still turn up in books credited as being by Beardsley himself. They’re variable quality; most are very bad, some are are outright copies of Alphonse Mucha pictures, but a couple are passable. One of the best is a portrait of Whistler walking with a long cane. The Wilde portrait is ridiculous since it’s copied from a photo of Wilde; Beardsley never used photos in that way.

    Worst example I’ve seen of their use recently was in a set of Taschen postcards which included two or three of the poor ones. Whoever edited that wasn’t doing their job properly.






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