Aubrey Beardsley by Symons, Arthur, 1865-1945

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By Symons, Arthur, 1865-1945

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Jacques Blanche painted the admirable portrait reproduced in the frontispiece. But he found many subjects, some of which he afterwards worked out, in the expressive opportunities of the Casino and the beach. He never walked; I never saw him look at the sea; but at night he was almost alv^^ays to be seen watching the gamblers at petits cbevaux, studying them with a sort of hypnotised attention for that picture of " The Little Horses^'' which was never done. He liked the large, deserted rooms, at hours when no one was there; the sense of frivolous things caught at a moment of AUBREY BEARDSLEY suspended life, en deshabille.

All his art is in that phrase. And he attained, to the full, one certainly of his many desires, and that one, perhaps, of which he was most keenly or most continuously conscious: contemporary fame, the fame of a popular singer or a professional beauty, the fame of Yvette Guilbert or of C16o de M^rode. And there was logic in his insistence on this point, in his eagerness after immediate and clamorous success. Others might have waited; he knew that he had not the time to wait. After all, posthumous fame is not a very cheering prospect to look forward to, on the part of those who have worked without recompense, if the pleasure or the relief of work is not enough in itself.

He certainly did not draw the human body with any attempt at rendering its own lines, taken by themselves ; indeed, one of his latest drawings, an initial letter to " Volpone," is almost the first in which he has drawn a nude figure realistically. But AUBREY BEARDSLEY he could draw, with extraordinary skill, in what is after all the essential way : he could make a line do what he wanted it to do, express the conception of form which it was his intention to express; and this is what the conventional draughtsman, Bouguereau, for instance, cannot do.

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