1. flex says

    I love the work of Beardsley. The hillocks on the slope are just an amazing use of simple lines and white space to both give a modern feeling of depth while also suggesting the lack of perspective in medieval works. Then the simple double-line above the trees makes the treeline into a forest even though there are only a few trees shown. Lovely.

    I mean Picasso would have done this same image with what, 10 lines showing 2 figures and a sword, and it would have also been amazing, embedding huge emotional content into those few lines. But the opulence of Beardsley gives me something to quietly contemplate and I can always discover more things to ponder in his work.

    If an illustration is a restful place to pause when reading a book of verse (and I do find that when reading verse I need to pause regularly), I’d rather have a Beardsley illustration than a Picasso. I’m reading a copy of Ovid’s Metamorphosis now with illustrations by Picasso, and while they convey the emotion of the scenes vividly, they don’t give me the same restful pause that Beardsley’s work does.

    Although, that also could be related to the proportions of black to white on the page. William Morris opined that an ideal page for reading would be equally black and white. Morris felt that too much white space in block of text would tire the eyes more, and used medieval illustrated manuscripts as evidence that large, blocky, print was easier to read for any length of time. I don’t know if that is true, but I have always felt an aesthetic attraction to the idea. Morris invented a typeface (of course he did!) called “Golden”, based on medieval manuscripts, which he felt improved readability.

    Cracky, it’s been far too long since I’ve thought about these things. It’s probably more than 30 years since I became interested in and studied the Arts and Crafts movement in England. While much of it was theoretical musings or supercilious sewage, I stumbled across an account of Oscar Wilde’s trip in 1882 around the US to promote Gilbert and Sullivan’s operetta Patience which was absolutely a hoot to read. A quick search suggests that it was a 1935 book by Lloyd Lewis called Oscar Wilde discovers America, but I also see there was a recent one from 2015 on the same topic and a fictional account with the same title from 2003.

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