An Impressionist Novel. Frontispiece by Aubrey Beadsley. London: Elkin Mathews, 1896. 20 pp ads dated 1895-96. Original dark blue cloth decorated in light blue and lettered in bronze.
First Edition, which consisted of 1000 copies. This copy is of the second and usual issue, with the so-called "Portrait of the Author" frontispiece. Elkin Mathews supposedly had commissioned a portrait of Ruding as a frontispiece, and was thus rather annoyed when Beardsley instead submitted his "black coffee" one that he had already produced for the ill-fated Volume V of THE YELLOW BOOK. Furthermore John Lane objected to his former partner and his former artist using an illustration that had been prepared for his use. A very few (six? twelve?) copies were issued with that first frontispiece, but one story is that Mathews then stood over Beardsley, refusing to leave his rooms, until the present frontispiece was well advanced. The portrait "may or may not depict the mysterious Ruding (who may or may not really have existed)" -- Samuels Lasner.
Of all Beardsley's compositions this is perhaps the most evocative of the fin-de-siecle drama: the props are the oil-lamp, the antimacassar, the loose-covered armchair, the rug and the fender; the actors are the youth with long hair and pierrot-style slippers and trousers... and the ruthless mother, looking down on her son.
The cover design is of a spider's web. This copy has the leaves still unopened, and is just about fine (spine lettering dull, as always). Samuels Lasner 94; Krshnmrti 573; Gallatin 975. Item #12005