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From Studio: “New Publications”

The Yellow Book. Volume III. (London: John
Lane. Price 5s. net.)— The art of The Yellow Book
is the art of Aubrey Beardsley. The Yellow Book
without Aubrey Beardsley would lose its chief
individuality. It is evident that The Yellow Book
pins its faith to Aubrey Beardsley, and is ready to
stand or fall by him.

Mr. Beardsley’s decoration is powerful, pro-
bably beyond that of any other book illustrator of
the present day—powerful in the expression of its
line, and in the boldness of its massing of black
and white. He is a master of his own particular
technique, and the possibilities of great distinction
which lie before him are such as fall to the lot of but
few young artists. From the time when his work
was first illustrated in the pages of THE STUDIO
we have followed with the greatest interest all that
he has given to the public; but it is with some-
thing akin to pain that we have remarked the ten-
dency of his later efforts—such, for example, as
those now before us on the cover and in the pages
of Vol. III. of The Yellow Book. That they are
clever, strong, and even splendid in technique,
goes without saying. We are constrained to
admire, even though we are at the same time
possessed of a sense of unutterable disappoint-
ment. We make no pretence of looking beneath the
surface to discover hidden and unpleasant myste-
ries. We do not, in fact, think there are any such
to find. The best and the worst qualities of Mr.
Beardsley’s art, as seen in these illustrations, lie on
the surface. He discourses only from one text,
which may be summed up in the words Frippery
and Frailty.

But the condition of his work which provokes the
severest criticism is its degradation. Mr. Beards-
ley’s figures are not men and women; they are but
monkeys apeing humanity. The ideal of manly
and womanly beauty is discarded by him as an old
glove, and physical deformity is welcomed as the
latest fashion.

But we imagine that the present vagaries are but
passing fancies of the artist, and none will hail with
greater delight than the studio his return to a
more wholesome standard.

The Yellow Book is full of bright and clever
things, and is marred only by the presence of the
unhealthy spirit of which we complain.

MLA citation:

“New Publications.” Review of The Yellow Book, vol. 3, October 1894, Studio, vol. 4, 1895, p. 9. Yellow Nineties 2.0, Edited by Lorraine Janzen Kooistra, Ryerson University Centre for Digital Humanities, 2019.