A Rediscovered Photograph of Oscar Wilde
In my last article I alluded to how that erstwhile sinner, Oscar Wilde, had achieved the exalted air of sainthood. Unfortunately, for collectors of Wildean memories, with that classification comes the cliché that a good man is hard to find.
And nowhere is that maxim manifested more in Oscar Wilde’s case than in the promised land of lost pictures. On the artifact scale of hardness-to-find, the rarest commodities are gold dust, hen’s teeth, and, finally, previously unseen photographs of Oscar Wilde.
At least that was the case until earlier this year when this late in Wilde’s long posthumous existence (what the American Indian appropriately dubbed the happy hunting ground), unearthed a little-known, and even less seen, image of Oscar. That photo has now ascended to the canonical next life as Sarony 3A. For Wildeans, that one discovery alone would be normally be rapture enough. However, now another rare photograph has appeared from the digital clouds.
It is worthy of investigation.
Continue reading Rediscovered
In a recent post I highlighted the difference between an illustration and a photograph of Oscar Wilde in the same pose—the result being that the photograph was the more authentic.
But what happens when there are differences between two versions of the same photograph?
In this case the image is Sarony No. 1—the famous iconic headshot of Wilde. The one on the right is the more familiar.
They do not quite look the same. But which one is a good egg, and which one is a Wilde goose chase?
Let us take a gander.
Continue reading One By One
Here we see an illustration and a photograph of Oscar Wilde in the same pose.
In a recent post I drew attention to the photograph (which is from the collections of the Harry Ransom Center, The University of Texas at Austin), as it has recently taken its place among the list of known Sarony photographs of Oscar Wilde.
The reason for the photograph’s belated addition to the canon is that it does not appear to have been previously published, nor was there any digital example online—so it is true to say that it had never been widely, if at all, circulated.
And yet, its existence should not come as a complete surprise to Wilde scholars. To understand why, we must consider the part played by the corresponding illustration.
Continue reading False Bottom
New Sarony Photograph Identified
A rarely seen image of Oscar Wilde has recently been added to the series of photographs taken by Napoleon Sarony on January 5th, 1882.
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.
To 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.
Continue reading Sarony 3A