Aubrey Beardsley

We remember the great genius and true art rebel Aubrey Beardsley, who died 121 years ago on 16 March 1898.

Every rebel carries an idea inside of how to change the world, but occasionally, a mentor is needed to evoke his inner dragon.

This is the story about Beardsley's life-changing moment:

Aubrey Beardsley was born on 21 August 1872 in Brighton. In their early years, he and his sister Mabel were praised as music wunderkinder. In school, he started to write poems and made his first caricatures and drawings. In 1888, he obtained a post in an architect's office, and afterward, one in an insurance company.

Aubrey Beardsley

Although he had no professional art education until that moment, Beardsley still wanted to pursue an artistic career.

He heard that Burne-Jones had an open studio, where the public could have a look at the artist’s current work or even meet the master. Beardsley decided to visit the artist with his beautiful sister, who supported her brother in every possible way. They thought that this might be a chance to show his work to his hero, maybe get some advice. Armed with Beardsley’s portfolio, they started out for the Master’s house. …

Aubrey Beardsley BioAubrey Beardsley

This is how the art historian Matthew Sturgis described this memorable Sunday afternoon on 12 July 1891 in the Biography Aubrey Beardsley (1998/2011)

‘The day was hot and the walk to West Kensington long. Burne-Jones’s house, The Grange, set back from the road behind its wall and iron gate, had a substantial eighteen-century blockish look to it. (…) Any flutter of anticipatory nervousness that accompanied the ringing of the doorbell was obliterated when the servant appeared and told them that the studio was no longer open’.

Mabel Beardsley and Burne-Jones

Aubrey and Mabel – full of disappointment – wanted to leave, but just at this moment, they heard a voice Pray come back, I couldn’t think of letting you go away without seeing the picture after a journey on a hot day like this’ it was Burne-Jones himself (…) he had seen them being turned away and, perhaps intrigued by Mabel’s thick red hair, had hurried after them’.

Burne-Jones invited them inside the house, showing them around. The artist had to notice the portfolio Beardsley brought:

‘He must have been approached often in similar fashion, but with true generosity, he inquired if his visitor “drew”. Aubrey needed no second chance; he proffered the folder, and asked if the master would look at his work and give an opinion’.

And Burne-Jones did so:

‘There is no doubt about your gift, one day you will most assuredly paint very great and beautiful pictures. Nature has given you every gift to become a great artist

I seldom or never advise anyone to take up art as a profession, but in your case,
I can do nothing else’. 

The mentor Burne-Jones showed not only true generosity on this life-changing day, but later, he also helped Beardsley to attend an art school and get the education he needed to become the artist we know today.

Every rebel has a moment when he or she gets a push from the environment which sets an inner dragon free

Beardsley lived only 25 years, but it was enough to become immortal. His artwork survived the ages and became an inspiration for artists and designers around the world. Beardsley is not only our role model, but he also inspired our BADDY'S BLACK&WHITE Collection.


Explore BADDY'S BLACK&WHITE Collection 


Shop now