A Wilde Night


A couple more pieces from yesterday’s Posters in Miniature. The drawing above is entitled A Wilde Night and credited to Claude Fayette Bragdon (1866–1946) whose design work has appeared here before. Bragdon was an acquaintance of Will Bradley’s, and like Bradley was a man of many talents being variously employed as an architect, writer and stage designer. Bragdon and Bradley both worked together on The Chap-Book, Herbert Stone’s Chicago periodical which commenced publication in 1894, the same year as The Yellow Book, a magazine whose style and light-hearted content Stone and co. seemed keen to emulate. Bragdon’s small drawings for The Chap-Book are less Beardsley-like than Bradley’s designs which is why this very overt homage appears as a surprise.


Bragdon’s picture is undated but the female figure is taken from Beardsley’s cover for the first issue of The Yellow Book which would place it in around 1894; the satyr-like male is an odd blend of bits of Beardsley’s male and female figures. Aubrey, however, would never have drawn bats like Bragdon’s, or a sleeping policeman…too gauche, my dear. As for the Wildeness, 1894 was only a year away from Oscar’s trial, a time when London was buzzing with scandalous rumours, none of which appear to have reached Chicago.


Also in Posters in Miniature is this piece by another American, Orlando Giannini (1860–1928), a glass designer and another Chicagoan who worked for a while with Frank Lloyd Wright. This design is dated 1895 and struck me with its radical appearance, so very different from the evolving Art Nouveau styles of the time. Giannini’s work as a glass designer evidently brought a different sensibility to graphic design, one which would have still looked bold and original ten years later.

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

Illustrating Poe #1: Aubrey Beardsley


The Black Cat.

Halloween approaches, as if you needed reminding. In honour of that event it’s Poe Week here at {feuilleton}, and we’ll be skating through some favourite depictions of stories and poems by the Boston genius.

Aubrey Beardsley’s four Poe illustrations were commissioned by Herbert S. Stone and Company, Chicago, in 1894 as embellishment for a multi-volume collection of the author’s works. The Black Cat is justifiably the most reproduced of these. The other drawings are fine in themselves but not very successful illustrations of Poe’s tales. Aubrey wasn’t really suited to this kind of horror atmosphere; looking at his ear-ringed orangutan and the spotless furnishings surrounding it you’d never guess the scene of murderous simian frenzy which lies at the heart of the story.


The Murders in the Rue Morgue.

Herbert Stone’s company had begun publishing The Chap-Book in the same year, a witty American equivalent of British periodicals like The Yellow Book, and Beardsley’s work was featured in the early issues. Looking through some of these at the Internet Archive I was surprised to see the following illustration in a short appraisal of Beardsley’s art. If this is by the artist, as the credit implies, it’s a drawing I haven’t seen in any books of his work. If anyone can confirm this is a genuine Aubrey then please leave a comment. The other Poe illustrations follow.


From The Chap-Book, May 15th, 1894.
Continue reading “Illustrating Poe #1: Aubrey Beardsley”