This drawing of a woman seated at a café table is reminiscent of the low-life café scenes of the Impressionists, Degas and Manet. The setting is almost certainly the Café Royal in London, a favourite haunt of artists and writers. The woman herself is a perfect example of the 'demi-mondaines' who appear in Beardsley's art of this period, which featured actresses, dancers, singers, courtesans and women of the night.
The Fat Woman
17.8 x 16.2 cm
Ink on paper
Date of work
Original: Ink on paper, 17.8 x 16.2 cm, Tate, Presented by Colonel James Lister Melvill at the request of his brother, Harry Edward Melvill
Aubrey Beardsley (1872-98) was a draughtsman and illustrator, perhaps best remembered for his powerful illustrations of Oscar Wilde’s controversial play Salomé. Although he died tragically young at the age of just 25, he was prolific in his work, producing hundreds of illustrations for books, periodicals and posters in a career spanning just under seven years. He explored the erotic and the elegant, the humorous and grotesque, winning admirers around the world with his distinctive style.