Wednesday 13 June 2012

Aubrey Beardsley's favourite restaurant

I would associate him with the St. James's Restaurant, "Jimmy's" as it was called, a resort to which the young men and young women who had spent the earlier hours of the evening in the promenades of the Empire or the Alhambra would repair when those markets were closed. One used to eat oysters and kidneys at "Jimmy's", and, if one could pretend to being any kind of artist, one used to study human nature - or say that one did. Anyhow, it was one of Beardsley's favourite haunts. He would find there the types which, back at his desk, he would translate into the sinister creatures of his brain. Beardsley was an exquisite. He loved the beauty of women's clothes, the little decorations and the conventions of men's fashions. We came out of "Jimmy's" together one night - you had to leave at half past twelve, or on Saturdays at twelve, but until those hours no restraint was put on what one ate or drank - and walked together towards Coventry Street where at the shop of la veuve Subtil he wanted to buy some new and surprising French book.  It was piercingly cold - an early March night when sleet had fallen, and the wind was from the east - and he fell to lamenting the sombre, sober nature of the clothes he had to wear. I recall that he wanted an overcoat of white whose lining and revers were to be of some faint shade of pink .... But it was very, very seldom that Beardsley indulged in extravagance of talk.

Grant Richards, Memories of a Misspent Youth, 1932

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