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"I have one aim — the grotesque. If I am not grotesque I am nothing." - Aubrey Beardsley (1872-1898)
Aubrey Beardsley and Oscar Wilde were two of the most (in)famous English Decadents, who, in defiance of the strictures of Victorian propriety, often found natural affinity and creative outlet in the grotesque, perverse, and weird. Beardsley, lampooned as "Aubrey Weirdsley" by some of his peers, illustrated many notable works - among them some of Poe's macabre tales.
In Beardsley's portrait of Poe, we find the confluence of two singular geniuses in Literature and Art - Poe, the master of horror and creator of detective fiction; and Beardsley, the avant-garde Aesthetic who profoundly influenced Art Nouveau, Symbolists, and Poster art.
Afflicted by tuberculosis since childhood and sensing his own mortality, Beardsley produced a significant output of work compressed within a brief period. A year before his death, he converted to Catholicism, and in his final days he sent a letter to his publisher imploring that he destroy all of his works deemed obscene. Not only did the publisher not comply, but he also sold forged copies of the letter.
Beardsley died at the age of 25.