Graphics: The Monstrous Orchid

Flippant Victorians parodied his name as Weirdsley Daubery or Awfly Weirdly. For the art of Aubrey Vincent Beardsley, whose sinuous draftsmanship fluttered through the pages of the 1890s farthest-out books, was the scandalous titillation of his day. He seemed to have dipped his pen in laudanum and night shade; his dark silhouettes fairly rippled with overtressed vixens, leering harle quins and glinting grotesques.

Beardsley was decadent and dainty, the epitome of the late-Victorian dandyism that prized artificiality over nature. It is a pity that he never used mauve ink. Oscar Wilde once paid him the compliment of calling him "a monstrous...

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