The Musical Analogy in Beardsley Criticism 1898-1914

Desmarais, Jane H.. 1997. The Musical Analogy in Beardsley Criticism 1898-1914. Journal of Pre-Raphaelite Studies, 6, pp. 64-90. ISSN 1060-149X [Article]

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The use of musical imagery in Aubrey Beardsley’s work, the way he used nonmusical
imagery to suggest musical structure and rhythm, the primacy of form
over content in many of his designs, and his working at a time when Whistler
challenged Ruskinian art-historical assumptions, all contributed to a tendency
among uncensorious (but not uncritical) Beardsley critics to see a musical aesthetic
in his artistic process. In their metaphorical discussions of Beardsley’s art as visual
music, his admiring reviewers focused attention on the ‘formal,’ and hence
unrepresentational, qualities of Beardsley’s work. They reacted against those who
insisted on being outraged by Beardsley’s unorthodox treatment of orthodox
subjects. Beardsley was sympathetic to the aesthetes’ attempt to free visual art
from the confines of its own attributes, and his incorporation of musical imagery
and themes into his art and his symbolist attempts to imitate the conventions of
Wagner’s music-dramas were an endeavour to create a synaesthetic analogy
between music and art. His admiration of Whistler’s work

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English and Comparative Literature



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Date Deposited:

12 Jan 2015 11:37

Last Modified:

23 Jun 2017 15:45

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Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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