WILDE, OSCAR (1854-1900, poet and playwright)
Lot 254
WILDE, OSCAR (1854-1900, poet and playwright)
Sold for £20,400 (US$ 34,253) inc. premium
Lot Details
WILDE, OSCAR (1854-1900, poet and playwright)
PORTRAIT BY NAPOLEON SARONY (1821-1896), vintage cabinet photograph, albumen print, SIGNED AT THE HEAD AND DATED BY WILDE ('Oscar Wilde May [18]82'), head and shoulders, turning to the side to look at the camera, printed signature of Sarony below the image on the original mount, with Wilde's name and Sarony's copyright and address also printed on the mount, framed and glazed, size of image 6¾ x 4¼ inches (6.5 x 4.5 cm), overall size 11½ x 10 inches (32 x 25.5 cm), [1882]


  • ONE OF THE BEST KNOWN IMAGES OF WILDE. It is one of the twenty-seven images of Wilde which Sarony took at the beginning of the former's tour of America 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 celebrities.

    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.

    Betjeman referred to Wilde's love of astrakhan coats in his poem 'The Arrest of Oscar Wilde at the Cadogan Hotel':

    'One astrakhan coat is at Willis's—
    Another one's at the Savoy...'

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