Venus between Terminal Gods Aubrey Beardsley Buy Art Prints Now
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Tom Gurney BSc (Hons) is an art history expert with over 20 years experience
Published on June 19, 2020 / Updated on October 14, 2023
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This delightful, detailed illustration was created by Aubrey Beardsley in 1895. The illustrator made a huge impact on British art despite having such a relatively short life due to severe illness.

We find Venus stood proudly in the centre of this composition, with a long dress which spreads all the way to the bottom of the drawing. Her name is inscribed just to the left, informing us of the content of this piece. She is joined by two servents on either side and they wear matching outfits which seem inspired by either Japanese or Roman culture. Both have baskets of fruit upon their heads and musical instruments in their hands. There are also two grand-looking statues in at the bottom, on which they are positioned. Behind is perhaps the most breaktaking element of Venus between Terminal Gods, with an incredible display of a wall garden, with a grid of guides around which a variety of plants having become intwined. The garden element is completed in black, with the detailed figures in front predominantly in white. To work with only two colours requires a incredible level of ingenuity, which Beardsley certainly possessed. He also worked in this manner throughout his career and so was very comfortable with it.

This drawing from 1895 is believed to have been completed with india ink which was very common at that time. It can today be found at the Cecil Higgins Art Gallery, Bedford, United Kingdom. Most photographs of this drawing do not really capture the beauty of the original piece, making seeing it in person entirely worthwhile, as is the case for most of Aubrey Beardsley's drawings. His level of precision and also the monotone format does not entirely suit digital photography, and his intention was always in the printed format for which most of his drawings were intended. He would rarely leave large areas of white completely bare, and in this example he incorporated a delightful floral pattern to Venus' dress. In other illustrations he liked to use elements of peacock feathers in elaborate flourishes which really lifted those designs to another level. His work remains entirely unique and influential, particularly within the British illustration industry. Their inclusion within several famous literary publications has also helped to spread his reputation yet further.

The artist left behind one of the strongest legacies within British art and influenced many who followed on in later generations. His work seems entirely contemporary even today and has been re-purposed in all manner of new products, going way beyond what he might even have imagined possible in the late 19th century. His most famous drawings remain the likes of The Peacock Skirt, The Yellow Book and The Climax. Despite his relatively short life, which was impacted by poor health, he was still able to establish a unique and memorable style which remained consistent throughout his oeuvre. He also established a strong reputation within his own lifetime that helped him to acquire some interesting and notable commissions. Today he remains seen as one of the most important British artists, particularly within the field of drawing, and offered something a little different that combined influences from many centuries ago, with an approach which was decidely contemporary.