Aubrey Beardsley in The Studio


Aubrey Beardsley in the year 1893 was 21, and on the threshold of being catapulted to fame (and notoriety) via his illustrations for Oscar Wilde’s Salomé. Some of Beardsley’s drawings in the distinctive style he called “Japanesque” had already appeared in The Pall Mall Magazine, and he was hard at work on some 600 illustrations and embellishments for Dent’s Le Morte D’Arthur which began publication in 1894. Some of those illustrations are featured in the glowing introduction by Joseph Pennell which appeared in the first issue of The Studio magazine in April 1893 (when Beardsley was still only 20), a title that became the leading showcase for the British end of the Art Nouveau movement in the 1890s. Pennell’s appreciation also included Beardsley’s Joan of Arc’s Entry into Orleans, a piece which showed how much the artist’s early work owed to Mantegna, and the first drawing of Salomé which later helped secure the Wilde commission. The Joan of Arc picture was reproduced as a fold-out supplement in the magazine’s second issue.


All the major Beardsley books refer to Pennell’s article but I’ve never had the opportunity to see it in full until now, thanks to the excellent online archives at the University of Heidelberg. There are many volumes of the international editions of The Studio at the Internet Archive but for some reason these don’t include the early numbers; at Heidelberg we can now browse the missing issues. In the first volume in addition to Beardsley there’s a piece about Frederic Leighton’s clay studies for paintings and sculptures, illustrations by Walter Crane and Robert Anning Bell, and an article on whether nude photography can be considered art. In this last piece several of the examples happen to be provided by Frederick Rolfe aka Baron Corvo, and Wilhelm von Gloeden, two men who we now know had other things on their mind when they were photographing Italian youths.

The collected volumes of The Studio from 1893 to 1898 may be browsed or downloaded here. I’ve not had time to go through the rest of these so I’m looking forward to discovering what else they may contain.




Detail from Joan of Arc’s Entry into Orleans.


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The Aubrey Beardsley archive

The recurrent pose 36


Another antique example of the Flandrin pose. Are you bored yet? Gaetano D’Agata (1883–1949) was one of the photographers who continued a tradition begun by Wilhelm von Gloeden for capturing the youth of Taormina, Sicily, in order to create tasteful prints for those who preferred their erotica to arrive with the vague excuse of Classical allusion. I’ve noted before that von Gloeden was possibly the first photographer to copy Flandrin’s painting, and his example led later photographers to copy him in turn, even borrowing his title, Cain, which reads into the painter’s work a Biblical meaning that seems misplaced. This picture comes from a Flickr selection which includes a similar rendering in postcard form, and also this rather cramped variation.

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Ode to the Classics


In which photographer Mikel Marton works variations on Wilhelm von Gloeden’s nude studies of the boys of Taormina, Sicily. “Classic” has a double meaning here since Von Gloeden’s photographs are now considered classic works of early homoerotica (Oscar Wilde was an enthusiast) as well as borrowing their props and poses from Classical antiquity. The very attractive model in the new shots is one Barry K and Mikel also posts some pictures by Sascha Schneider whose deeply strange and mystical illustrations have featured here in the past.

Previously on { feuilleton }
Uranian inspirations
Forbidden Colours
Mikel Marton
The art of Sascha Schneider, 1870–1927
Evolution of an icon

Uranian inspirations


left: Sicilian boy by Wilhelm von Gloeden (no date); right: Jugend cover by Hans Christiansen (1896).

My current reading is The Secret Life of Oscar Wilde (2003), a long and fascinating study by Neil McKenna which attempts to disentangle the true nature of Wilde’s sex life from the myths and evasions of his biography and biographers. Among the pictures in the book, McKenna shows a couple of the “Uranian” photographs by Wilhelm von Gloeden (1856–1931) which Wilde owned. Von Gloeden’s views of naked Sicilian boys were described as “Classical” in a barely-believable subterfuge familiar during the 19th century, and it’s understandable why Wilde, who’d been praising the attractions of Mediterranean youth for most of his adult life, would have found these pictures worthy of purchase. Wikimedia Commons has a substantial set of the photos, although it should be noted that provenance is often uncertain; there were other photographers active in Taormina at the time who catered to a similar market. One photo in particular stood out recently when I recognised it as the possible source for the figure on a Hans Christiansen cover for Jugend magazine of 1896. The cover above has appeared here before but this is the first time I made the photographic connection.


left: Jeune homme assis au bord de la mer by Jean Hippolyte Flandrin (1836); right: Cain by Wilhelm von Gloeden (c. 1902).

Gloeden, of course, was one of the first people to use the Flandrin pose, as I noted in the original post on that theme. I wonder if he knew he’d been copied in turn? That Jugend cover and its inspiration reminds me a little of Flandrin’s other depiction of Classical youth, his portrait of Polites, a painting which Oscar would no doubt have enjoyed.


Polites, Son of Priam, Observes the Movements of the Greeks by Jean Hippolyte Flandrin (1834).

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The recurrent pose archive
The Oscar Wilde archive

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Forbidden Colours
Jugend Magazine
Evolution of an icon

Forbidden Colours


Wilhelm von Gloeden‘s version of the Flandrin pose as it appears on the cover of a 1989 Gallimard edition of Forbidden Colours by Yukio Mishima. I included this photograph in the very first posting which examines the recurrence of Flandrin’s Jeune Homme Assis au Bord de la Mer but this is the first time I’ve seen it used on a book cover. The French twist the title into “forbidden loves” and in so doing lose Mishima’s punning subtlety.


The Ballad To a Severed Little Finger (1966).

Searching around earlier turned up a nice collection of poster works by the great Japanese collage artist, Tadanori Yokoo. One of these from 1966 is dedicated to Mishima, while the one above shows actor Ken Takakura in one of his many yakuza roles. Yokoo regarded Mishima as a major influence and further cemented the relationship by making an appearance in Paul Schrader’s 1985 film, Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters. By convoluted coincidence, Schrader received his start in Hollywood ten years earlier with a co-written screenplay, The Yakuza, which Sidney Pollack directed. Ken Takakura reprised his gangster persona in that film, along with Robert Mitchum. It’s a good piece of neo-noir, worth seeking out.

For more Tadanori Yokoo, see some of the recent posts by Will at A Journey Round My Skull.

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The recurrent pose archive

Previously on { feuilleton }
The art of Goh Mishima, 1924–1989
The art of Hideki Koh
Mishima’s Rite of Love and Death
Secret Lives of the Samurai
Guido Reni’s Saint Sebastian
The art of Sadao Hasegawa, 1945–1999
The art of Takato Yamamoto