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Beardsley drawing sets record at Fine Books auction

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A pen-and-ink drawing by Aubrey Beardsley set a world record when it was sold for $213,000 at a London auction house this week. The drawing was called "The Climax" and was created as an illustration for Oscar Wilde's 1894 play "Salome."

The previous record for a Beardsley drawing had been $159,000. A second Beardsley drawing, called "A Platonic Lament," also drawn as an illustration for "Salome," sold for $142,000 at the same auction.

Aubrey Vincent Beardsley, an influential English illustrator known for his Art Nouveau images in ink, died in 1898 at the age of 25. He produced extensive illustrations for books (including a deluxe edition of Sir Thomas Malory's "Le Morte d'Arthur") and magazines.

Beardsley was also famed for his erotic drawings.

Beardsley's death at so young an age limited his output and has served with time to make his work all the more valuable.

"The Climax" and "A Platonic Lament" were both part of an original series of 13 drawings. Nine of these were eventually donated to Harvard University's Fogg Art Museum.

But for 80 years scholars and collectors wondered about the whereabouts of "The Climax" and "A Platonic Lament." They were just recently discovered – hanging on the wall of a bathroom in a home in a Boston suburb.

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