Irish poet, dramatist and wit.
A cabinet-size bust portrait photograph of Oscar Wilde, dressed in a coat with a fur collar, gazing over his right shoulder, signed and dated in the top portion above his head, Oscar Wilde Jany. 23, ’82. The sepia tone photograph, which bears the imprint of N. Sarony, 37 Union Square, New York in the lower mount, measures 4 1/4 inches wide by 6 1/4 inches high. The upper corners faded and retouched to match sepia tone.
Oscar Wilde, who was eager to make an international reputation, accepted an invitation to give a series of lectures to Americans on aestheticism. In preparation, he bought himself some suitably aesthetic outfits, including a long, heavy, fur-lined green overcoat (shown in this photograph). He became very attached to this coat, writing later that “it was all over America with me … it knows me perfectly.” It enfolded him when he set sail for New York on Christmas Eve, 1881, without a word of his lectures written. Arriving in New York, Wilde was an immediate sensation. To a customs official he said, “I have nothing to declare but my genius.” One of the first things he did was to take himself off to be photographed by the exotically named Napoleon Sarony, one of the foremost photographers of the day, in a variety of aesthetic poses and outfits (including the green coat). The lecture tour was a great success. Curious Americans from coast to coast flocked to hear him. With his flamboyant outfits and his artistic views, he dazzled his audiences (including a group of hard-drinking miners in Colorado) to such an extent that the proposed four month tour eventually stretched to nearly a year.
Matted in tan and cocoa with a copper gilt frame measuring 10 3/4 inches wide by 13 inches high.
This item is associated with these categories in our inventory:
- Lit – English/Irish