The art of John Jack Vrieslander, 1879–1957


The Darkness (1900).

Another discovery to add to the long list of post-Beardsley illustrators, John Jack Vrieslander was a German artist whose not-very-German name was a pseudonym of Hans Zarth. It took some searching to establish that a) it is Zarth, not “Zahrt” as one site has it, and b) the two were indeed one person. I’ve used the Vrieslander name here since that’s the credit used for most of these examples. Vrieslander/Zarth signed his pictures with a V or a Z according to the prevailing persona.


As Beardsley imitations go these drawings could be better—they lack Aubrey’s natural sense of balance and composition—but they’re of interest for leaning so heavily on the style of the later illustrations which favour elegant gardens and meticulously rendered foliage. Some of the figures refer to the earlier Aubrey, however, as does the vaguely lascivious atmosphere. The phallic plant pot in the Lilly Peters picture below is the kind of detail nobody in 1901 would have dared attempt without Aubrey’s lead.


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