Friday, July 01, 2011

Beardsley Ephemera

The John Johnson collection of 18th to 20th century ephemera has been digitised in large part and is searchable. Two rather nice items floated to the top for me, both of them by Aubrey Beardsley. The first is a theatre flyer for the first ever production of Arms and the Man by Bernard Shaw in the Avenue Theatre in 1894. The Second comes from the publishing ephemera section of the collection and appears to be a publisher's flyer for John Lane's Keynotes series. The Keynotes were small books, thirty-three in total which epitomised the spirit of the 1890s. They were issued by Lane between 1893 and 1897 and the first 21 (and no.23) were given the Beardsley treatment with a title-page and cover designed by him and all with the same key design on the backstrip meaning that they present beautifully on a shelf. The authors included the likes of M. P. Shiel, Grant Allen, and Arthur Machen so you can I'm sure begin to smell the exotic perfumes which trailed from their pages. It's quite a shock to see a Beardsley design in colour although one assumes it was coloured by someone else for this ephemeral publication.


Vintagemaison said...

Both beautiful illustrations - the woman in the black and white flyer looks a little like Tracey Emin don't you think?

Jimmy said...

One of the original posters publicising Keynotes was at Christies recently but failed to sell. Beardsley apparently added watercolour to convert his image for issue 8 of The Savoy into a poster advertising the collected set so I suppose it is possible that he added colour to the Keynotes one too.

John C said...

Some other of Beardsley's posters appeared with colour additions. I always liked the way the red worked on the print made of Isolde:

One of my books has the Avenue Theatre poster showing a completely different bill with the whole thing printed in a very striking combination of blue and green.

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