. An original drawing by Aubrey Beardsley. Beardsley (1872-1898) is the best known illustrator from the British 1890s. He lived a tragically short time, dying of tuberculosis at the age of 25. This lovely major work, the epitome of Beardsley’s style of art nouveau, is for the spine of the binding cases of Sir Thomas Malory, Le morte Darthur, published by J. M. Dent, 1893-94, Beardsley’s first important commission. The book's title (spelled incorrectly as “La Morte Darthur”), author, publisher, and date are included in the design, which is in fact drawn on four separate pieces of paper that have been adhered together. Malory's Le Morte Darthur, published by Dent has been described as incomparable. The same can be said of Aubrey Beardsley's beautiful and remarkable designs (a term he preferred to "illustrations"). Beardsley was only 20 years old when Dent commissioned him to do all of the designs for this work. It was a leap of faith by Dent in taking a chance on an unproven artist. The illustrations were done during 1892-1894 for the initial issue in parts, beginning in June 1893. The design is done in ink on paper with pencil under-drawing showing the change from the initial position of the leaves, on four separate pieces of paper, the title and top border inset above the ornamental panel ; 27 x 6.7 cm. Framed. In fine condition. Provenance: J. M. Dent. Exhibited: “Burne-Jones, The Pre-Raphaelites, and their Century,” Peter Nahum, London, 1989, 165 (listed in catalogue vol. I, p. 166-167, reproduced. vol. 2, pl. 124); “Beautiful Decadence,” Japan, 1998, 7 (reproduced in catalogue). Literature: Ian Fletcher, Aubrey Beardsley, 1987, p. 128-129; A. E. Gallatin, Aubrey Beardsley: Catalogue and Bibliography, 1945, p. 33; Mark Samuels Lasner, A Selective Checklist of the Published Work of Aubrey Beardsley, 1995. ORIG/011116.