Proof, inscribed by William Rothenstein to Aubrey Beardsley.
William Rothenstein—who, like Beardsley, was enthralled by contemporary French art and by Japanese prints, erotic and otherwise—was close friends with Max Beerbohm and introduced the two comic artist-writers to one another in 1894. It was not, however, the laughing, but the serious side of Beardsley that Rothenstein captured in 1897, when his subject was increasingly debilitated by tuberculosis and already looking death in the face. This pensive portrait later appeared in Rothenstein’s Liber Juniorium portfolio (1899). Although Rothenstein began life as a Jewish outsider to English society, he was knighted in 1931. Beerbohm was knighted, too, in 1939. It is interesting to speculate whether, had he lived longer, the world would have seen the creation of Sir Aubrey Beardsley.
From the Mark Samuels Lasner Collection, University of Delaware Library, Museums and Press