Photograph, silver gelatin cabinet card,
Inscribed by Aubrey Beardsley to Herbert Pollitt.
In his final years, Beardsley came within the orbit of Marc-André Raffalovich (1864–1934)— French-born author of Uranisme et unisexualité (1896), a study of same-sex love—who lived in London and became the partner of the poet John Gray (1866–1934), allegedly the inspiration for Oscar Wilde’s fictional “Dorian Gray.” Both Gray and the Jewish Raffalovich converted to Roman Catholicism in the mid-1890s. Beardsley felt moved to do the same, influenced not only by their example, but by his sister, Mabel. It was a spiritually driven decision, not a response to Raffalovich acting as his chief financial support when he grew too ill to undertake artistic commissions. A little-known photographer, M. Abel, made this image of Beardsley seated near a prominently placed crucifix in his hotel room in Menton, France, where he went for his health and was nursed by his mother. Beardsley sent it to his friend, Herbert Pollitt.
From the Mark Samuels Lasner Collection, University of Delaware Library, Museums and Press