Aubrey Beardsley’s “The Coiffing” is a pen-and-ink drawing from “The Ballad of a Barber.” The illustration depicts a serene moment before a murder, featuring the grotesque figure of the barber. This character embodies the dehumanization of criminals and the working class during the 19th century.
Beardsley was known for his controversial artwork, which often included dark and perverse imagery as well as grotesque erotica. Despite its brevity, his career had an impact on art history and reflected his talent as an illustrator and writer. Two significant works include “The Yellow Book” and “Wilde’s Salome.”
Influenced by Japanese woodcuts, Beardsley’s black ink drawings depicted subjects such as decadence, eroticism, and grotesqueness. His work served as a reflection of societal attitudes towards marginal groups in 19th-century England, including criminals and members of the working class. Despite being considered taboo at that time period, Beardsley’s artwork remains highly regarded in contemporary art criticism.