11324 AN INTERESTING CIRCULAR CENTER TABLE SET WITH A COLLAGE OF LITERARY AND EROTIC PRINTS BY AUBREY BEARDSLEY Probably English. Circa 1960s or 1970s. Measurements: Height: 29″ (73.7 cm) Diameter: 48″ (121.9 cm).
Of wood and printed paper sheets. The circular top with square edge above a plain frieze. The square stem rests upon a square stepped base with ebonized ogee molded edge. Virtually all surfaces covered in a well planned collage of erotic and literary prints by Aubrey Beardsley.
The Collection of Duarte Pinto-Coelho, Spain.
This interesting center table is set with a collage of illustrations by the late nineteenth century artist and author Aubrey Beardsley (1872-1898), whose works belong to an avante-garde movement which worshiped beauty, and criticized and satirized what they viewed as repressed Victorian society.
Born to an English middle class family, Beardsley suffered his first bout of tuberculosis at the age of nine; the disease would cause his lifelong fragile health and ultimately lead to his early death. In 1884 his mother fell ill, and he and his sister were sent to live with an aunt. He attended boarding school at the Bristol Grammar School, where he cultivated his talents for writing and illustrating. In 1889 Beardsley was sent to London to work in an insurance office, which he found tedious and before long turned his attention full time to his art. His mother, who had since regained her health, also went to London where she looked after her son for the rest of his life.
Beardsley enjoyed perhaps the most productive and important period of his career in the years 1893 and 1894. He provided illustrations and covers for books and periodicals, including his first commission of over 300 illustrations for J.M. Dent’s edition of Le Morte d’Arthur by Sir Thomas Malory. During this year Beardsley also made the acquaintance of writer and dandy Oscar Wilde, and provided the illustrations for the English version of Wilde’s scandalous play, Salome, beginning his rise to notoriety.
In 1894 his celebrity was solidified with the publication of The Yellow Book, an illustrated quarterly journal with literary and artistic content provided by progressive minds of the day include Walter Crane, Edmund Gosse, Sir Frederick Leighton and Henry James. The publication was also significant for its inclusion of female contributors and editors. However, after Wilde’s arrest for ‘gross indecency’ in 1895, the author’s alleged affiliation with the journal and his association with Beardsley caused the artist to be dismissed as The Yellow Book’s art editor. He was subsequently approached by the publisher Leonard Smithers, who was interested in creating a rival periodical, called The Savoy. Smithers was known for publishing erotic material and Beardsley took advantage of The Savoy as an outlet for his creative works in this genre. After the publication ceased production in 1896, Beardsley continued to illustrate other works for Smithers including The Rape of the Lock by Alexander Pope and the The Lysistrata of Aristophanes by Ben Jonson. Smithers also printed A Book of Fifty Drawings, a collected album of the works of Beardsley himself.
His simple style, which relies on empty space and pools of black separated by pure lines, was influenced by medieval and Renaissance woodblocks, and later by Japanese prints. Although the forms are uncomplicated, the subject matter is symbolic and complex. His illustrations challenged the topics of wealth and corruption, vice, beauty ideals, and gender and sexuality.
The present table contains illustrations from various literary and erotic works by Beardsley. Several illustrations from Le Morte d’Arthur are present, which demonstrate, both in subject matter and composition, the influence of the Pre-Raphaelite and Arts and Crafts movements. There is a particular association in the border decoration of Beardsley’s images with the work of Arts & Crafts designer William Morris. The other illustrations are taken from Beardsley’s independent body of work devoted to commenting on prudish Victorian manners, or are are subtly and explicitly erotic in nature, and come from his series such as Salome and Lysistrata.
Beardsley enjoyed a very significant revival of interest during the 1960s, a period of rampant permissiveness that naturally embraced his sometimes overt eroticism. The table was likely made at this time and may have been commissioned by the renowned Madrid-based interior designer Duarte Pinto (1923-2010), to whom it had once belonged. Born in Portugal, Pinto relocated to Paris in the mid-1940s, spending time among the intellectual and artistic circles. He kept the company of notable personalities of the time, including Coco Chanel, Truman Capote, Elsa Schiaparelli, Salvador Dalí and Maria Callas, among others. He then moved to Madrid in 1955, where he opened an antique shop and transitioned into interior decoration, becoming the first and most renowned decorator in the country. The overall design and proportion of the table structure is very accomplished and may well have been drawn by Mr. Pinto himself.