Autograph letter to G. F. Scotson-Clark, 9 August 1891
Beardsley admired both the art of James McNeill Whistler (1834–1903) and his dandified personal style. But whatever Beardsley thought well of, he could not resist mocking. He would later caricature Whistler as a nearly boneless figure, dwindling from a huge cloud of hair to tiny pointed feet and seemingly in conversation with a butterfly. (Whistler’s signature was a butterfly.) This early letter, however, features Beardsley’s self-caricature in the famous pose of Whistler’s own mother in the painting Arrangement in Grey and Black, No. 1 (1871). The recipient, George F. Scotson-Clark (1872–1927), was a close friend from their days at the Brighton Grammar School. Here Beardsley, still under the influence of Pre-Raphaelitism, praises The Earthly Paradise by William Morris (1834–1896) and reports that he will again be showing his work to Edward Burne-Jones (1833–1898), whom he had approached in July 1891, seeking mentorship.
From the Mark Samuels Lasner Collection, University of Delaware Library, Museums and Press