WILDE, OSCAR (1854-1900, poet and playwright) PORTRAIT BY NAPOLEON SARONY (1812-1896),
Lot 169
WILDE, OSCAR (1854-1900, poet and playwright) PORTRAIT BY NAPOLEON SARONY (1812-1896),
Sold for £1,200 (US$ 2,039) inc. premium
Auction Details
Lot Details
WILDE, OSCAR (1854-1900, poet and playwright)
PORTRAIT BY NAPOLEON SARONY (1812-1896),
photograph, albumen print, full-length, dressed to the left, mounted with Wilde's autograph signature below, stamp of George D. Russell, 125 Tremont Street, Boston, on the verso which also bears an inscription in a bold hand 'Oscar Wilde / Fanny M. Lunt', numbered 10 in the image (lower right), corners slightly rounded, board possibly trimmed at sides, four small pin-holes in lower corners, 51/4 x 31/2 in (13.3 x 8.9 cm).

Footnotes

  • EXHIBITED: Cheltenham Literary Festival, Faces and Places, 1982.

    REFERENCE: Robert Ellmann, Oscar Wilde, 1987.

    This image of Wilde is the tenth of twenty-seven poses in which Sarony photographed him at the beginning of his American tour in 1882. Sarony was the pre-eminent New York photographer of his day and one of the city's favourite eccentrics. At his death he left the negatives of some 40,000 photographs of show business personalities. A version of another Sarony photograph bearing Russell's stamp on the verso is in the Clark Library. The full sequence of Sarony photographs (the present one number 10) is reproduced by Merlin Holland in The Wilde Album, 1997, which also includes a photograph of the be-fezzed and moustachioed Sarony. Beneath this image of Wilde, Merlin Holland quotes his ancestor: 'The imagination will concentrate itself on the waistcoat. Waistcoats will show whether a man can admire poetry or not.'

    Wilde's attire for his photograph was the costume of the Apollo Lodge at Oxford to which he belonged, though some thought it was court dress. Helen Potter, who later impersonated Wilde in public appearances, described it as 'A dark blue sack cloth, and knee-breeches; black hose, low shoes with bright buckles; coat lined with lavender satin, a frill of rich lace at the wrists and for tie-ends over a low turn-down collar.' This outfit, including the stockings, excited much comment. 'Strange,' Wilde said later, 'that a pair of silk stockings should so upset a nation.'

    Whistler, who got the better of Wilde on more than one occasion sent the following telegram to him when he was in America: ‘Oscar, We, of Tite Street and Beaufort Gardens, joy in your triumphs and delight in your success; but we are of the opinion that with the exception of your epigrams, you talk like “Sydney Colvin in the provinces”; and that with the exception of your knee-breeches, you dress like “Arry Quilter”.’
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