What inspired The Beardsley Generation?
The exhibition will explore the impact that new photographic means of reproduction (process engraving) at the end of the 19th Century had on illustration. Older artists who had relied on the craft wood-engraver to work up their sketches for publication were swept aside and a new generation of artists, well versed in the requirements of process engraving, were much in demand. The new technology also resulted in an expansion in the production of illustrated books and periodicals.
After a period of dull realism, the new men looked for inspiration to the last time that there had been intensity and emotion in illustration. This led them to the work of the 1860s illustrators, especially Rossetti, Millais and Boyd Houghton. They also turned to the illustrated books printed in Venice and Florence around 1500; to the Japanese woodblock prints of artists such as Hiroshige; and to Symbolist painters such as Gustav Moreau.
Central to the exhibition will be the work of Aubrey Beardsley, Charles Ricketts, Laurence Housman and the Robinson brothers. Their work will be represented through original drawings, books and periodicals drawn from both public and private collections.