Further echoes of Aubrey


Dorian Gray (1924) by Otto Verhagen (1885–1951).

If you need an idea of the colossal impact Aubrey Beardsley’s drawing had on the art world of the 1890s consider that the entirety of his career—from his first public exposure in The Studio in 1893 to his very untimely death in 1898—lasted a mere five years. Decades afterwards artists around the world were still imitating his style. The later disciples are so numerous and so widespread it’s no surprise if some have yet to be fully acknowledged by subsequent generations. Sander Bink who maintains the Rond1900 site sent copies of these drawings (from Lopende Vuurtjes, Verloren Publishers, 2012) and provided some information about the artists:

Verhagen was a government official for most of his life and seems to have led a very respected life and made his Beardsley-esque work privately, no expositions as far is I know. Gockinga appears to have led a more interesting life: born in Indonesia, lived in Holland 1908–1922, the Indonesia (Java) again, then New York, and the Indonesia and after wwii Amsterdam, probably homosexual. Had one exposition of his work in 1917.

Sander’s site has further examples of Verhagen’s drawings, and he says that both artists were probably inspired by Carel (or Karel) de Nerée, some of whose work was featured here a while back. Always good to have the dots joined. Verhagen’s Dorian Gray is a curious piece; in style it’s a little like the angular drawings that Beresford Egan was producing in the 1920s, while the subject can’t be Dorian himself unless it’s a rendering of his aged portrait. As for Gockinga’s drawing, it’s a lot more faithful to Beardsley’s early style (complete with phallic extrusions) than the poor Nichols fakes that appeared in 1919. If you want a successful forgery it’s always best to find someone with talent.

(Thanks Sander!)


Old lady with ghost (c.1916) by René Gockinga (1893–1962).

Elsewhere on { feuilleton }
The Aubrey Beardsley archive
The illustrators archive
The Oscar Wilde archive

7 thoughts on “Further echoes of Aubrey”

  1. Great post John, and timely – I just started watching the Shane Briant version of Dorian Gray last night!

  2. Beardsley’s impact is incredibly pervasive — not only in legions of lesser imitators but in talented artists who made a subtler use of his lessons. I knew he died young but I never thought about how brief his career was.

  3. A provocative post that leaves me hungry for more, probably more than anything because of the linked Verhagen page not offering any options for thumbnail enlargement. That ballroom scene remsembles to me something of Harry Clarke as well. Brings to mind ‘Masque of the Red Death’. Perhaps my favorite story and probably in my top fifty albums, Diamanda of course. I just listened to it last night strangely enough, remarkable how similar the mood is in both album and story alike. This sensuous, exaggeratedly decadent style of illustration is one that will never be done enough of.

  4. Great to read these positive responses! I wil try to supply John with more and higher quality pictures of these Dutch Aubrey Beardsleys in the very near future.

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