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Oscar Wilde

1 of 15 portraits of Oscar Wilde

Oscar Wilde, by Napoleon Sarony, 1882 - NPG P24 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London

Oscar Wilde

by Napoleon Sarony
albumen panel card, 1882
12 in. x 7 1/4 in. (305 mm x 184 mm)
Purchased, 1976
Primary Collection
NPG P24


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  • Oscar Wilde (1854-1900), Wit and dramatist. Sitter associated with 15 portraits.

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This photograph of Oscar Wilde lounging against an appropriately artistic backdrop was taken by the New York studio photographer Napoleon Sarony. Wilde had arrived in New York in January 1882 on the steamship Arizona, with 'nothing to declare but his genius'. He needed a publicity photograph for his lecture tour, so he went to Sarony's studio and Sarony provided just what he wanted: an image of limpid dandyism in quilted smoking-jacket, silk knee-breeches and patent leather slippers. Apparently, ' Wilde arrived holding a white cane across his fur-lined overcoat. Sarony took him first in his seal-skin cap, then bare-headed in his long trousers, then bare-headed in his knee-breeches.' As Sarony declared, Wilde was 'a picturesque subject indeed'.

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