Its rarity is evidenced by the fact that it does not appear to have been been published in any publicly available print medium to date, nor anywhere else previously online.
However, a proof print of it has lain dormant in the extensive Wilde holdings of the Harry Ransom Center, The University of Texas at Austin—in the James McNeill Whistler collection to be precise—and their copy might be the only extant print.
Let us see how this photograph re-emerged and how it affects the total count of known Sarony images of Oscar Wilde, let’s start the ball rolling.
Apologies for the hiatus from writing articles for this blog while I took time out to attend to two parallel projects.
First is my historical archive which was in need of an update to latest web standards and to address improvements to usability. Click on this link to Oscar Wilde In America to visit the new site.
Also the interim I contributed a major article to the latest edition of the academic journal The Wildean, the flagship publication of the Oscar Wilde Society. The article featured for the time ever in print all known photographs of Oscar Wilde taken by Napoleon Sarony in 1882 and 1883, as well as correcting existing and supplemented much new information about them. You can obtain copies of the journal from the Oscar Wilde Society here.
The signature image of the web site has been W.B. Richmond’s ”Electra at the Tomb of Agamemnon” (1874) shown at the top of this page—a work that Wilde had described in detail in his review of its showing at the Grosvenor Gallery in London .
The painting was the inspiration for a cartoon used as a centerpiece to a fake interview with Wilde in Punch magazine, the purpose of which was to ridicule the Aesthetic Movement that Wilde went to America to espouse. It depicts the Greek goddess Ariadne representing the grief of Aestheticism as she watches Wilde depart aboard the ship Arizona.
The web site upgrade is timely as it comes at conclusion of a ten year project of verifying and documenting Oscar Wilde’s lecture tour, which I shall feature in a separate blog article in the new year.
We are approaching the end of Summer so I have returned to the Blog, and will continue posting in the near future. Please remember to join the conversation by having your say in the ‘Leave a Reply‘ section at the bottom of each post.
In the meantime, I have not been idle in my Oscaring. Web standards are constantly changing, so I have taken the opportunity to upgrade my documentary archive at Oscar Wilde In America:
The archive is based on 30 years of private study and countless hours in libraries and online since 2002—and I am personally responsible for all original research, writing, editing, and web design.
It importantly contains for the first time, an accurate verification of the dates, venues, and lecture titles of Oscar Wilde’s lecture tour of North America in 1882, although these pages are not yet complete nor upgraded.
The site has been used by scholars, institutions, and the media around the world and is the largest online resource on the life and times of Oscar Wilde in America. The entire project was created without funding, and is freely provided and noncommercial.
There have been Oscar Wilde bars before now: in Berlin, San Diego, Chicago, and, I seem to recall, one previously in New York City.There is a Wilde Café in Minneapolis,and a bar called Oscar Wilde 9 located, both surprisingly and unsurprisingly, at #9 Oscar Wilde St. in Mexico City.
Most of these pretenders, however, merely give a nod to the old boy by borrowing his name. One or two, such as Wilde’s Restaurantin The Lodge at Ashford Castle, in Cong, Ireland, and the Oscar Wilde room at the Café Royal in Piccadilly, London, try a little harder to embody Oscar’s maxim that moderation is a fatal thing, and nothing succeeds like excess.
Raising The Bar
But believe me, none of them, past or present, comes remotely close to the lavishness to be found at the newOscar Wilde Bar in New York City.
As one artistic passerby was heard to exclaim when poking his head through the door, “Minimalism is dead!” And that was when the place was only half finished during the renovations.
Now that it is finished it was time to attend the press reception.
New Book : Beautiful and Impossible Things: Selected Essays of Oscar Wilde
Notting Hill Editions, UK (2015) | New York Review Books, US (2017)
“…and over our heads will float the Blue Bird singing of beautiful and impossible things, of things that are lovely and that never happen, of things that are not and that should be.”
So said Oscar Wilde in The Decay of Lying, one of the works included in Beautiful and Impossible Things, a new collection of essays plus the odd letter and lecture by Wilde, due for its U.S. release later this year.
Gyles Brandreth, the English writer, broadcaster, actor, and former Member of Parliament, has provided a solid Introduction to the book. Mr. Brandreth continues to bolster Wilde’s popularity in the U.K. and beyond, by efforts such as this, his being Honorary President of the Oscar Wilde Society in London, and not least by his successful Oscar Wilde Murder Mysteries series of novels.
Mark Samuels Lasner has long been recognized as an authority on the literature and art of the late Victorian era. He is also a collector, bibliographer, typographer, and Senior Research Fellow at the University of Delaware Library.
To those offices he can now add the honorific of benefactor.
For recently Mark donated his private library, the extensive Mark Samuels Lasner Collection, to the University of Delaware. It has been housed since 2004 in the Morris Library, and now becomes largest and most important gift of its kind in the university’s history.
I recall learning the word polyonymous from this Word-a-Day web site—it means having many names. It resonates because I always suspected Oscar of being a confirmed and secret polyonymist, freely dispensing with at least three of his five birth names which he considered too much ballast for the heights he soared, and then changing his name altogether when he came back down to earth.
Join us at the Brooklyn Academy of Music for The Judas Kiss
May 11—Jun 12, 2016
Are you in New York this month?
Why not join the Philadelphia Wildeans who are planning a visit to the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM), to see The Judas Kiss, the play starring an acclaimed performance by Rupert Everett as Oscar Wilde.
Wilde on the Borders: Symposium, Theatre, and Art April 2, 2016, Niagara University, N.Y.
Located just four miles north of Niagara Falls, N.Y., along the U.S./Canadian border, Niagara University announces “Wilde on the Borders”, a day of lively academic discussions hosted by the English department which celebrates Wilde’s complexity through the forms he expressed: essays, theatre and art.