Circa 1900
The Charming Ghost

Ink and watercolour
Image size: 3 3/4 x 5 3/4 inches (9.5 x 14.5 cm)
Contemporary frame

Private family collection


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This painting was created in the early 1900’s when the Decadent Movement and the Aesthetic Movement held influence in Europe. Aestheticism, the rising movement that conquered British design, painting, and architecture, promoted a new kind of beauty unrestrained by political squabbles and outdated morals. In short the Aesthetic Movement strove to create “art for art’s sake.” Concurrently the Decadent Movement harnessed a symbolism that emphasised the spiritual, morbid and erotic.

It is evident that this work possesses the decorative qualities of the aesthetic as well as the macabre humour of the decadent.

Aubrey Beardsley

Aubrey Vincent Beardsley (21 August 1872 – 16 March 1898) was an English illustrator and author. His black ink drawings were influenced by Japanese woodcuts, and depicted the grotesque, the decadent, and the erotic. He was a leading figure in the aesthetic movement which also included Oscar Wilde and James McNeill Whistler.

Beardsley’s contribution to the development of the Art Nouveau and poster styles was significant despite his early death from tuberculosis. He is one of the important Modern Style figures.