Oscar Wilde’s art collection

I update this article when new information emerges. Last updated 5 Jun. 2024. Please get in touch if you have any further information about the artworks at Tite Street. I thank Robert Whelan for his generous assistance and encouragement while I was preparing this article.

Oscar and Constance’s home at 34 (formerly 16) Tite Street, Chelsea. Image: © Rob Marland, 2013

Oscar Wilde rose to fame in the early 1880s as a self-appointed art critic, leader of the aesthetic movement, and wearer of knee-breeches. He lectured throughout North America and the United Kingdom on decorative art, railing against such crimes as hanging pictures in the hallway or too near the ceiling. In 1884 he married Constance Lloyd, who also kept up with trends in dress and interior decoration, and the newlyweds settled down in the artistic enclave of Chelsea. They set about putting Wilde’s theories into practice, decorating their Tite Street home with works by their favourite artists, as well as other items of more sentimental value.

In the wake of Wilde’s failed prosecution of the Marquess of Queensberry for criminal libel in 1895, a sale of the contents of the ‘House Beautiful’ was ordered to satisfy Wilde’s creditors. Before the bailiffs arrived, Constance appears to have rescued several pieces and these were sold at another auction in Piccadilly in 1900. The art collection – or what survives of it – has never been reassembled, and there is still debate about exactly which works the couple owned.

References to the artworks displayed in 16 Tite Street can be found in contemporary newspaper articles (some of which I uncovered during research for my book Oscar Wilde: The Complete Interviews), letters, the 1895 auction catalogue,Munby, A. N. L. (Ed.) (1971) Sale Catalogues of Libraries of Eminent Persons: Poets and Men of Letters, London and New York: Mansell, 371–88 and reminiscences by those with first-hand knowledge of the Wildes’ home. Here I draw on this information, as well as research by other Wilde scholars, to reconstruct Oscar and Constance’s art collection.

Let’s take a look, shall we? (Click on images to enlarge.)

Wilde’s study

Wilde’s study was at the front of the house, on the ground floor. The dado was of red enamelled wood and the walls were painted pale yellow.

Bust of Hermes

A plaster bust of the Hermes of Praxiteles at the Museum of Classical Archaeology, Cambridge University. Image: © Rob Marland

Charles IX by François Clouet. Wilde thought that Charles Ricketts’ full length portrait of Willie Hughes looked like ‘an authentic Clouet’. Image: Wikimedia.

The most prominent artwork was a plaster cast bust of the Hermes of Praxiteles, which stood on a red pillar in one corner of the room (it appears to have been moved here from Wilde’s bedroom when the couple’s children were born and that room was given over to them). ‘[T]he plaster [does] not retain the beauty and transparency of the marble,’ Wilde conceded, ‘which is like ivory lit by the sun.’Ricketts, C. (2011) Recollections of Oscar Wilde, London: Pallas Athene, 35 He cannot have known this for certain, however, as he never saw the original. It was discovered shortly after he visited the dig site in Ancient Olympia in 1877.

The auction sale catalogue incorrectly describes it as a ‘colossal bust of Apollo’ (Lot 175) rather than of Hermes. It certainly was ‘colossal’, though: the American poet and actor William Theodore Peters, who wrote about his visit to Wilde’s home, noted that it was ‘life-size’.Peters, W. T., ‘Oscar Wilde at Home’, The Daily Inter Ocean (Chicago, IL), 16 Dec. 1894, 31, repr. Marland, R. (Ed.) (2022) Oscar Wilde: The Complete Interviews, Jena: Little Eye, 617–21

Ricketts’s picture of Mr. W. H.

Near the bust, on a chair, Peters noticed ‘a clever imitation of an old Elizabethan painting by Mr. Charles Ricketts, a portrait of the “incomparable Mr. W. H.”’ In his short story The Portrait of Mr. W. H. Wilde presented the theory that the dedicatee of Shakespeare’s sonnets, Mr W. H., was a young actor named Willie Hughes or Hewes. One of the characters in the story, lacking the evidence to prove the theory, commissions an artist to paint a portrait of the actor in Elizabethan style so that he can pass it off as genuine.

In a case of life imitating art, Wilde commissioned his friend, the artist Charles Ricketts, to paint a forgery of the forgery. He wanted to use Ricketts’ picture as a frontispiece to an expanded, book-length version of the story.Holland, M. & Hart-Davis, R. (Eds.) (2000) The Complete Letters of Oscar Wilde, London: Fourth Estate, 405 Ricketts painted Willie Hughes on ‘a decaying piece of oak and framed it in a fragment of worm-eaten moulding, which [his] friend [Charles] Shannon pieced together’. Wilde was delighted with the picture and wrote to thank Ricketts:

My dear Ricketts, It is not a forgery at all; it is an authentic Clouet of the highest artistic value. It is absurd of you and Shannon to try and take me in! As if I did not know the master’s touch, or was no judge of frames!Holland, M. & Hart-Davis, R. (Eds.) (2000) The Complete Letters of Oscar Wilde, London: Fourth Estate, 412

The picture also appears to have convinced the auctioneers in 1895, who described it as ‘[a]n old oil painting of Will Hewes, framed’.

Wilde scholar Gregory Mackie has detailed what happened to the picture next. Richard Charles Jackson, a collector, claimed to have seen the picture at the auction and to have visited the dealer who bought it. This dealer, Edwin Parsons, informed Jackson that he had sold the picture for five pounds, but could not remember to whom. But Jackson’s account is called into question by Ricketts, who in 1912 told the eccentric Wilde enthusiast, Walter Ledger, that he had it on good authority that the picture had not been put up for sale. Ricketts speculated that it may have been stolen before the auction by one of the ‘low-class dealers’ who had been spotted roaming unsupervised throughout the Wildes’ home.Mackie, G. (2019) Beautiful Untrue Things: Forging Oscar Wilde’s Extraordinary Afterlife, Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 23–5

Charles Ricketts’ thumbnail sketch of his portrait of Mr W. H., drawn in 1912. Image: William Andrews Clark Memorial Library.

Portrait of a Young Man by Bronzino. Wilde’s description, and Ricketts’ sketch, of the portrait of Willie Hughes shares several features with this portrait. Image: Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

Ledger asked Ricketts if he had taken any photographs of the portrait. He had not, but he kindly provided for Ledger a quick sketch of the portrait as he remembered it. This tiny image eventually found its way into the hands of the American collector William Andrews Clark Jr., and is now in the Wilde collection at UCLA’s William Andrews Clark Memorial Library.Mackie, G. (2019) Beautiful Untrue Things: Forging Oscar Wilde’s Extraordinary Afterlife, Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 3–4 As Wilde’s book version of The Portrait of Mr. W. H. was not published until after his death, and then without the planned frontispiece, this sketch is the only visual evidence we have of what the original looked like.

A description of the picture is also to be found in Wilde’s story. Wilde may have provided this description to Ricketts as a guide, or he may have written or redrafted it after Ricketts gave him the finished picture. In any case, the description matches Ricketts’ sketch.

It was a full-length portrait of a young man in late sixteenth-century costume, standing by a table, with his right hand resting on an open book. He seemed about seventeen years of age, and was of quite extraordinary personal beauty, though evidently somewhat effeminate. Indeed, had it not been for the dress and the closely cropped hair, one would have said that the face, with its dreamy, wistful eyes and its delicate scarlet lips, was the face of a girl. In manner, and especially in the treatment of the hands, the picture reminded one of François Clouet’s later work. The black velvet doublet with its fantastically gilded points, and the peacock-blue background against which it showed up so pleasantly, and from which it gained such luminous value of colour, were quite in Clouet’s style; and the two masks of Tragedy and Comedy that hung somewhat formally from the marble pedestal had that hard severity of touch—so different from the facile grace of the Italians—which even at the Court of France the great Flemish master never completely lost, and which in itself has always been a characteristic of the northern temper.Wilde, O. (1921) The Portrait of Mr. W. H., New York: Mitchell Kennerley, 3–4

Shannon’s Ashtoreth

Ashtoreth by Charles Shannon. Image: Eastbourne Auctions | WBM.

Another painting was on the floor, propped up against the wall. Peters described this only as ‘a nude study of a woman by Mr. Charles Shannon’, and Wolfgang Maier-Sigrist has deduced that it was Ashtoreth,Maier-Sigrist, W. (2022) Where was Ashtoreth? The Wildean, 60, 120–1 a pastel drawing that Simon Casimir Wilson identified in 2021 as having belonged to Wilde.Wilson, S. C. (2021) ‘Dangerous to chambermaids’: Ashtoreth, a controversial early work by Charles Shannon, owned by Oscar Wilde, The Wildean, 59, 72–88. In the Tite Street auction it was knocked down for the relatively large sum of £21, presumably because the ‘crayon drawing of a Nude Female at a fountain’ was attributed to Whistler (Lot 116). Ernest and Ada Leverson, friends of Wilde, purchased it and kept it in storage during his imprisonment. After his release Wilde pined for the picture and repeatedly asked his closest friend and unpaid factotum Robert Ross to arrange for it to be sent to his new home in Berneval;Holland, M. & Hart-Davis, R. (Eds.) (2000) The Complete Letters of Oscar Wilde, London: Fourth Estate, 909, 918, 919 apparently Ross did not oblige. Ashtoreth was sold again at auction in 2017 to a private collector for £5,200, and no doubt the value has increased somewhat now that it is known that the picture once graced Wilde’s study.

Wilde’s son Vyvyan remembered that there were several smaller pictures on the walls of the study, including ‘a Simeon Solomon, a Monticelli, and Beardsley’s exquisite drawing of Mrs. Patrick Campbell’.Holland, V. (1954) Son of Oscar Wilde, London: Rupert Hart-Davis, 41

Simeon Solomon(s)

In his long prison letter to his lover Lord Alfred Douglas that would later come to be known as De Profundis Wilde laments the sale of various works of art including ‘my Simeon Solomons’,Holland, M. & Hart-Davis, R. (Eds.) (2000) The Complete Letters of Oscar Wilde, London: Fourth Estate, 713 so evidently he owned more than one.

The section of the De Profundis manuscript in which Wilde lists the artworks that were sold in the 1895 auction. He first mentions his Burne-Jones drawings and his Monticelli. Later, he added his Whistler drawings and his Simeon Solomons.

Emmanuel Cooper has claimed that:

Solomon’s drawing Love Talking to Boys (private collection), of schoolboys affectionately hugging each other while being lectured by a winged schoolboy angel, hung on the walls of Oscar Wilde’s rooms at Oxford. When Lord Alfred Douglas sold Wilde’s Solomon drawings after his trial, Wilde reproached him for his heartlessness.Cooper, E. (1986) The Sexual Perspective: Homosexuality and Art in the Last 100 Years in the West, Routledge & Kegan Paul Ltd, 67

Love Among the Schoolboys by Simeon Solomon (1865). Wilde owned a Solomon drawing of ‘Eros conversing with some youths’. It was probably similar in style and composition to this drawing. Image: Metropolitan Museum of New York.

Simon Reynolds agrees that this drawing, better known as Love Among the Schoolboys, was owned by Wilde;Reynolds, S. (1984) The Vision of Simeon Solomon, Catalpa Press Ltd, 26 according to Robert Aldrich it was among a collection of works by Solomon owned not by Wilde but by Douglas.Aldrich, R. (1993) The Seduction of the Mediterranean: Writing, Art, and Homosexual Fantasy, Routledge, 142 But none of these authors cite sources to support their claims. Merlin Holland and Rupert Hart-Davis, the editors of Wilde’s letters, note that ‘Solomon’s drawing Love among the Schoolboys, often assumed to have been in Wilde’s possession, was almost certainly done for [Solomon’s friend, the Oxford don Oscar] Browning, not Wilde’.Holland, M. & Hart-Davis, R. (Eds.) (2000) The Complete Letters of Oscar Wilde, London: Fourth Estate, 713, n. 2

The only evidence that Wilde owned the drawing comes from Ricketts, who recalled that one of Wilde’s Solomons depicted ‘Eros conversing with some youths dressed in the clothes worn in Shelley’s boyhood’.Ricketts, C. (2011) Recollections of Oscar Wilde, London: Pallas Athene, 35 This could, of course, describe another, unknown drawing.

Wilde scholar Donald Mead suggests that Wilde’s Solomons were sold as Lot 121 in the Tite Street sale: ‘A clever pen and ink sketch of Group of Figures signed and dated, and pencil sketch of a figure, oak frames.’Mead, D. (2015) Oscar’s finances: the pillage of the House Beautiful – Chapter six: the bankruptcy sale, The Wildean, 47, 38–55 If Mead is correct, it is unsurprising that the auctioneers did not identify Solomon as the artist. His arrest in 1873 in a public urinal for a variety of sexual offences had left his reputation in tatters.

Monticelli

La conversation interrompue by Adolphe Monticelli may give some idea of Wilde's Monticelli. Image: Paris Musées

Aubrey Beardsley’s drawing of Mrs Patrick Campbell (1894). Image: WikiArt

A Sunny Stroll by Mortimer Menpes. The Wildes’ picture of Japanese children at play may have been similar. Image: Menpes

The Keats manuscript once owned by Wilde and displayed in his study.

Mead has also surmised that Lot 120 (‘An old art painting, on panel, Group of Figures, ebony frame’) must have been the Monticelli, which we know Wilde had had framed ‘in black with a copper gold rim to the panel’. It was purchased by Wilde’s friend William Rothenstein for £8 and, in 1897, sold to raise money for its former owner.Holland, M. & Hart-Davis, R. (Eds.) (2000) The Complete Letters of Oscar Wilde, London: Fourth Estate, 378; Mead, D. (2015) Oscar’s finances: the pillage of the House Beautiful – Chapter six: the bankruptcy sale, The Wildean, 47, 38–55.

Beardsley’s drawing of Mrs Patrick Campbell

One evening in March 1894 Wilde took Box F at the St. James’s Theatre to see Mrs Patrick Campbell in The Second Mrs Tanqueray. He had brought with him Aubrey Beardsley, who had recently completed illustrations for the book version of Wilde’s play Salomé, and sent a note to Campbell from his box to ask if he might bring the young artist backstage after the third act to ‘bow his compliments’ to her.Holland, M. & Hart-Davis, R. (Eds.) (2000) The Complete Letters of Oscar Wilde, London: Fourth Estate, 587 The meeting evidently occurred and was a success, as Beardsley’s drawing of Campbell would soon appear in the first number of The Yellow Book, an infamous illustrated quarterly.Beardsley, A. (1894) Portrait of Mrs. Patrick Campbell, The Yellow Book, 1, 157 According to Wilde’s biographer H. Montgomery Hyde, Beardsley presented Wilde with the original drawing,Hyde, H. M. (1976) Oscar Wilde, London: Eyre Methuen, 166 no doubt as thanks for setting up the meeting. The drawing is not mentioned in the 1895 catalogue and may have been stolen before the sale. It later found its way into the collection of the Kupferstichkabinetts Berlin.I am grateful to Christian Jäger of the Kupferstichkabinett Berlin for confirming the inventory number of the Beardsley drawing (SZ Beardsley 1).

Mortimer Menpes?

Lot 119 in the 1895 catalogue is ‘A Japanese picture, framed’. Ricketts noticed in Wilde’s study ‘a Japanese painting of children at play’,Ricketts, C. (2011) Recollections of Oscar Wilde, London: Pallas Athene, 35 surely the same picture. Both Oscar and Constance were enamoured with Japanese art, although neither ever visited the country. The picture may have been by a Japanese artist, but it seems more likely that it was by Theodore Wores or Mortimer Menpes, both of whom produced works inspired by their visits to Japan. Josephine Guy notes that Wilde, in the periodical version of his dialogue The Decay of Lying, comments on Menpes’s pictures of Japanese children.Guy, J. M. (Ed.) (2007) The Complete Works of Oscar Wilde, Vol. 4: Criticism: Historical Criticism, Intentions, The Soul of Man, Oxford University Press, note on 98.10-14. Menpes was Vyvyan’s godfather and gave the infant some etchings in lieu of a christening mug.Holland, V. (1954) Son of Oscar Wilde, London: Rupert Hart-Davis, 37 Vyvyan still possessed the etchings in the 1950s when he wrote his memoirs, so Constance must have rescued them before the 1895 sale.

Keats manuscript

Also hanging on the wall was the original manuscript of John Keats’ sonnet on the colour blue.Peters, W. T., ‘Oscar Wilde at Home’, The Daily Inter Ocean (Chicago, IL), 16 Dec. 1894, 31, repr. Marland, R. (Ed.) (2022) Oscar Wilde: The Complete Interviews, Jena: Little Eye. I note that Otho Holland Lloyd recorded that the manuscript was displayed not in Wilde’s study but in the drawing room. Either Lloyd or Peters was mistaken or the manuscript was moved at some time. Wilde had met Keats’ niece in America and several weeks later she sent him this manuscript. He was overjoyed, and wrote to thank her: ‘What you have given me is more golden than gold, more precious than any treasure this great country could yield me’.Holland, M. & Hart-Davis, R. (Eds.) (2000) The Complete Letters of Oscar Wilde, London: Fourth Estate, 157 Wilde published the manuscript in an 1886 article for the Century Guild Hobby Horse.Wilde, O., ‘Keats’ Sonnet on Blue’, Century Guild Hobby Horse, 1, July 1886, 83–6. It was sold as Lot 122 in the 1895 sale. As far as I am aware, its current location is unknown.The variants in the manuscript are not noted in the textual apparatus of Cox, J. N. (Ed.) (2009) Keats’s Poetry and Prose, Norton, 126

More Menpes

Sold in the same lot as the Keats manuscript was ‘[a]n etching of a Lady, by Menpes after W. Graham Robertson’ (Wilde’s bibliographer, Stuart Mason, reports that the lot was purchased by a Mr Shaw for 38 shillings).Mason, S. (1914) Bibliography of Oscar Wilde, London: T. Werner Laurie Ltd, 13 Presumably the etching was a minor work that was displayed near the manuscript and bundled up with it for that reason. Yvonne Ivory has noted that Menpes’s catalogue raisonée does not include any etchings after Robertson, so the etching may have been misattributed by the auctioneer.Ivory, Y. (2023) Undated, unpublished, unpacked: Wilde’s Lyric Club letters to Mortimer Menpes and Henry Jalland, The Wildean, 63, 107–42, 123 Supporting this possibility is a report of the auction in which the picture sold with the manuscript is described not as an etching but as a ‘small water colour painting’.‘Sale of Oscar Wilde’s Furniture and Effects’, The Freeman’s Journal (Dublin, Ireland), 25 Apr. 1895, 6.

Drawing room

Oscar Wilde by Harper Pennington (1884). Image: UCLA.

The drawing room was on the first floor and it was here, Vyvyan remembered, that ‘Pre-Raphaelitism was given full rein, though a certain amount of Japonaiserie had crept in’.Holland, V. (1954) Son of Oscar Wilde, London: Rupert Hart-Davis, 43 There was William Godwin furniture lacquered white, scattered objet d’art, and a large painted piano. Constance must have insisted on the last article: Wilde had declared in his lecture on The House Beautiful: ‘One must have a piano I suppose, but it is a melancholy thing, and more like a dreadful, funereal packing-case in form than anything else.’O’Brien, K. (1982) Oscar Wilde in Canada: An Apostle for the Arts, Toronto: Personal Library, 175 The walls were originally white. Later a gold Japanese imitation-leather paper was hung above a cream coloured moulding that Godwin referred to as a ‘wall band’; below, the walls were painted a dull green.For a detailed description of the decorative scheme of the drawing room, see Appendix A of Marland, R. (2024) John Donoghue’s ‘Requiescat’ plaque, The Wildean, 64, 3–67

Pennington portrait

The most imposing artwork in the room was a full length portrait of Wilde painted in 1884 by Harper Pennington. At this time Wilde was affecting a regency style of dress, and he noted with pride that the newspapers had compared his appearance to Count D’Orsay.‘Return of the Aesthete’, The Sun (New York, NY), 12 Aug. 1883, 5, repr. Marland, R. (Ed.) (2022) Oscar Wilde: The Complete Interviews, Jena: Little Eye, 536–8, 538 The portrait was bought by the Leversons. Ross claimed to have offered it to London’s National Portrait Gallery in 1912, but the offer was met with ‘a polite refusal’.Robert Ross, (1909–1914) [Ross scrapbook], British Library, Add MS 81824, f. 73 The picture now hangs in the Clark Library.

The walls of the drawing room were clustered with smaller works. Adele Marroc, who interviewed Constance in her drawing room in 1893, recorded that ‘[t]he few choice proof engravings and signed etchings [...] are framed in plain white wood. [...] Most of the pictures bear in the margin the dedication to Mrs. Oscar Wilde.’Adele Marroc, ‘Oscar Wilde’s Children’, The Philadelphia Inquirer (Philadelphia, PA), 5 Nov. 1893, 23, repr. Marland, R. (Ed.) (2022) Oscar Wilde: The Complete Interviews, Jena: Little Eye, 803–10

Whistler’s Venice etchings

There were white-framed Venetian etchings by Whistler, a wedding present. Adele Marroc, ‘Oscar Wilde’s Children’, The Philadelphia Inquirer (Philadelphia, PA), 5 Nov. 1893, 23, repr. Marland, R. (Ed.) (2022) Oscar Wilde: The Complete Interviews, Jena: Little Eye, 803–10; ‘Mrs. Oscar Wilde at Home’, To-day (London, UK), 24 Nov. 1894, 93–4, repr. Marland, R. (Ed.) (2022) Oscar Wilde: The Complete Interviews, Jena: Little Eye, 810–13 Whistler was commissioned by the Fine Art Society to produce a series of etchings of Venice in 1879. A first set of twelve was published in 1880. Wilde praised Whistler’s second set in a January 1883 letter, written shortly before the pictures were exhibited.Holland, M. & Hart-Davis, R. (Eds.) (2000) The Complete Letters of Oscar Wilde, London: Fourth Estate, 195 The second set was not published until 1886, two years after the Wildes were married, but Whistler may have gifted the couple copies from either the first or second set.

The Bridge: Santa Marta by James McNeill Whistler. Image: Freer.

San Giorgio by James McNeill Whistler. Image: Freer.

The Balcony by James McNeill Whistler. Image: Freer.

Edward Godwin’s designs for picture frames to be made for the Wildes’ home are held at the British Library,British Library, Add MS 81753 and show that the Wildes owned three Whistler etchings (view the rough sketch here, top). In a neater sketch Godwin specified that his Whistler frame should be 31 in (79 cm) high and 70 in (178 cm) wide. There was a narrow shelf beneath the central, landscape etching, on which small ornaments could be perched. The frieze was positioned as if to overlap with the wall band, but Godwin’s designs – as well as photographs taken of the room in 2021 during conservation work – show that the wall band snaked up and around the frieze.Marland, R. (2024) John Donoghue’s ‘Requiescat’ plaque, The Wildean, 64, 3–67 This arrangement is described by Constance in her January 1895 article about home decoration for The Young Woman:

[I]f you should have etchings, […] hang them under the moulding rail. The position of this rail depends entirely upon the size of the room and the style of the pictures used. The moulding rail can be raised to surmount one of the pictures if this should happen to be rather larger in size, and in this way make a most effective decoration.Constance Wilde, ‘How to Decorate a House’, The Young Woman (London, UK), 4 Jan. 1895, 132–3.

Godwin’s frame for Wilde’s Whistler etchings. Reconstruction © Rob Marland 2023, based on Godwin’s designs in the British Library (Add MS 81753).

Godwin’s neat design can be used to identify the etchings owned by the Wildes. Based on measurements given in the design, the etchings appear to be about 187 × 305 cm. Whistler’s etchings are of various sizes, and many are ruled out by these measurements. Further clues include Godwin’s sketches of the first two etchings. The first appears to be The Bridge, Santa Marta; the second, San Giorgio. The third etching owned by the Wildes was not sketched by Godwin but, based on its size and the fact that the first two etchings belong to the second set, it can only have been The Balcony; Nocturne: Palaces; or The Rialto.Both of Whistler’s Venice series can be seen in MacDonald, M. F., Petri, G., Hausberg, M., & Meacock, J. (2012) James McNeill Whistler: The Etchings, a catalogue raisonné, University of Glasgow, https://etchings.arts.gla.ac.uk Accessed 3 Sep. 2023.

The three etchings were probably presented to the Wildes exactly as they had been displayed in Whistler’s February 1883 exhibition ‘Arrangement in White and Yellow’, in groups of three and in narrow white frames scored with a pair of light-brown lines.Sutherland, D. E. (2014) Whistler: A Life for Art’s Sake, New Haven: Yale University Press, 192–3 None were in the 1895 sale; all three were sold in 1900.Moyle, F. (2011) Constance: The Tragic and Scandalous Life of Mrs Oscar Wilde, London: John Murray, 323

Mrs Siddons by Thomas Gainsborough, engraved by Samuel Arlent-Edwards. Image: Cleveland Museum of Art. See the original portrait at the National Gallery (London).

Legend of the Blush Roses, drawing by Walter Crane and poem by Beatrice Crane. Image: Woman’s World.

Engraving of Bastien Lepage’s portrait of Sarah Bernhardt. Image: Gallica.

Portrait of Mrs Siddons

Marroc saw ‘the working proof of Noel Kenealy’s engraving of the Gainsborough “Mrs. Siddons,” the famous picture hanging in the British National Gallery’. I have been unable to verify whether Kenealy engraved the Gainsborough Siddons, although he did make an engraving of Sir Thomas Lawrence’s portrait of the actress (view here). The picture does not appear in the 1895 catalogue.

Beatrice and Walter Crane’s illustrated poem

Beside the Siddons was ‘an exquisite pen and ink drawing by Walter Crane, illustrating a little poem written by his own daughter’ (also not in the 1895 catalogue). Beatrice Crane was born in 1873,Stokes, J. & Turner, M. W. (Eds.) (2013) The Complete Works of Oscar Wilde, Vol. 7: Journalism, Vol. 2, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 387 so was about 14 years old when she wrote it. Wilde printed the poem and illustration in the February 1888 issue of The Woman’s World.Seeney, M. (2023) Oscar Wilde as Editor: An Index to Woman’s World, Rivendale, 32 He wrote a letter thanking Crane for ‘the charming design and for Beatrice’s pretty little poem’.Crane, W. (1907) An Artist’s Reminiscences, New York: Methuen & Co., 195

Sarah Bernhardt by Georges Clairin (1876). Image: Paris Musées.

Lady Mount-Temple (1894) by G. F. Watts. Image: Collingwood.

Portrait(s) of Sarah Bernhardt

Next, according to Marroc, was a proof of Bastien Lepage’s portrait of the French actress Sarah Bernhardt ‘with an inscription from the artist’, although Peters thought that the inscription was ‘a note in uncertain English by the divine one to Mr. Wilde’ (the reporter who interviewed Constance for To-day in 1894 agreed that the inscription was in Bernhardt’s hand).‘Mrs. Oscar Wilde at Home’, To-day (London, UK), 24 Nov. 1894, 93–4, repr. Marland, R. (Ed.) (2022) Oscar Wilde: The Complete Interviews, Jena: Little Eye, 810–13 This picture was included in Lot 127 in the Tite Street sale.

As Marroc may have been mistaken in attributing the picture of Siddons to Gainsborough, there is a possibility that she was also incorrect in her description of the Bernhardt picture. A 1954 article in The Daily Telegraph about the centenary of Wilde’s birth features an image with the caption ‘Sarah Bernhardt’s Gift to Oscar Wilde’.R. Churchill, ‘London Day by Day’, The Daily Telegraph (London, UK), 16 Oct. 1954, 4. The copy of the article I have been able to obtain is a low quality scan (view here), but the image is clearly George Clairin’s 1876 portrait of Bernhardt, and likely a copy of the print made of it by Louis Monziès. The article reads: ‘My illustration indicates the extent of Wilde’s friendships when still quite a young man. In Sarah Bernhardt’s spidery but distinguished hand she has written “A Oscar Wilde—son amie Sarah Bernhardt—1880.”’ This picture – the present location of which is, as far as I am aware, unknown – may be the same one described by Marroc, or perhaps Wilde owned signed engravings of both the Lepage and Clairin pictures.

Portraits of Lady Mount Temple and Ellen Terry

Peters also noticed ‘a portrait of Lady Mount Temple and a graceful drawing by Mr. [W.] Graham Robertson of Miss Ellen Terry’. Georgina Mount-Temple was a close friend and distant cousin of Constance. The Wilde family visited her home, Babbacombe Cliff, near Torquay, on several occasions. Constance appears to have owned a photogravure of G. F. Watts’ chalk drawing of Lady Mount-Temple: it can be seen in a photograph of the drawing room of her last home at Nervi near Genoa, and was sold at the 1900 sale.Moyle, F. (2011) Constance: The Tragic and Scandalous Life of Mrs Oscar Wilde, London: John Murray, 323 (see the penultimate plate between pp. 246 and 247). The photograph is also reproduced in Cox, D. (2022) Constance Wilde’s Autograph Book 1886-1896, London: The Oscar Wilde Society, 185. But this portrait, which dates to 1894, cannot be the portrait seen by Peters because his article can be shown by internal evidence to describe an 1892 visit to Tite Street.Marland, R. (Ed.) (2022) Oscar Wilde: The Complete Interviews, Jena: Little Eye, 617, n. 1.

Ellen Terry by W. Graham Robertson. Image: Terry.

Ellen Terry as Rosamund by W. Graham Robertson, c. 1893. Image: V&A.

Anton Rubinstein by Felix Moscheles, 1881. Image: Royal Academy of Music.

William Theodore Peters by Eustace Calland. Image: The Studio.

Robertson’s picture of the actress Ellen Terry may be the drawing that was reproduced in Terry’s autobiography or, as it was described in the 1895 catalogue as a ‘proof etching’ (Lot 128), it may be the engraving Robertson made of Terry as Rosamund in c. 1893.

Moscheles’s portrait of Rubinstein

Marroc noticed ‘a drawing of Rubenstein [sic] by Moscheles’. Anton Rubinstein was a Russian pianist and composer. Wilde saw him perform in London in 1877.Ellmann, R. (1987) Oscar Wilde, London: Hamish Hamilton, 75 The fact that there was a picture of him in the drawing room suggests that Constance was also a fan. Felix Moscheles was an English painter and writer and the son of Bohemian pianist Ignaz Moscheles. Wilde describes a visit to Moscheles’ studio in an 1887 article for the Court and Society Review.Stokes, J. Turner, M. W. (Eds.) (2013) The Complete Works of Oscar Wilde, Vol. VI: Journalism, Vol. 1, Oxford University Press, no. 70; see also n. to ll. 4–5. It is possible that the Wildes’ drawing was a version of Moscheles’ 1881 oil painting of Rubinstein, now held at the Royal Academy of Music.

Photograph of William Theodore Peters

Robert Sherard, Wilde’s friend and most prolific biographer, recorded that a portrait of William Theodore Peters hung in the drawing room.Sherard, R. H. (1905) Twenty Years in Paris, London: Hutchinson & Co., 392 We cannot know which picture this was, but the 1894 photograph by Eustace Calland is a possibility.The Studio, 2 (1894), 139

John Donoghue’s ‘Requiescat’ plaque

John Donoghue’s ‘Requiescat’ plaque. Image: © Rev. William M. Quinlan

Set into the moulding above the fireplace was a gilt-copper plaque by John Donoghue, a sculptor Wilde had met in Chicago. Donoghue, learning of the Apostle of Aestheticism’s imminent arrival in the Windy City, fashioned a bas-relief in clay illustrating a verse from Wilde’s poem Requiescat. Wilde found the gift waiting for him at his hotel and was impressed with Donoghue’s artistry. He sang Donoghue’s praise in interviews,‘Truly Aesthetic’, The Daily Inter Ocean (Chicago, IL), 13 Feb. 1882, 2, repr. Marland, 165–9; ‘With Mr. Oscar Wilde’, Cincinnati Daily Gazette (Cincinnati, OH), 21 Feb. 1882, 10, repr. Marland, R. (Ed.) (2022) Oscar Wilde: The Complete Interviews, Jena: Little Eye, 187–93. and ordered several plaster cast copies of the bas-relief.Mason, S. (1914) Bibliography of Oscar Wilde, London: T. Werner Laurie Ltd, 257

The plaque was not included in the 1895 sale and its fate remained a mystery until my 2024 paper for The Wildean revealed that a copper electrotype of the plaque had survived.Marland, R. (2024) John Donoghue’s ‘Requiescat’ plaque, The Wildean, 64, 3–67 This plaque may be the one owned by Wilde. I speculate that, because Constance is known to have removed furniture and artworks from the home before the 1895 sale, she probably took the plaque and disposed of it some time before her death. For more on the plaque, I refer readers to my paper for The Wildean or this blogpost that summarises the discovery.

Bust of Augustus

The bust appears to be similar to this example in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Image: Père Ubu/Flickr.

Wilde (back left) photographed with friends and family to celebrate his winning the Newdigate Prize. The bust of Augustus he was awarded is on the ground. Image: The Wildean.

On the mantelshelf stood a small marble bust of the Emperor Augustus. When Wilde won the Newdigate poetry prize as an Oxford undergraduate he was presented with the bust, which, as he explained to a correspondent in 1878, ‘had been bequeathed by an old Fellow of Magdalen, Dr Daubeny, to the first undergraduate [from Magdalen] who should get the Newdigate’.Holland, M. & Hart-Davis, R. (Eds.) (2000) The Complete Letters of Oscar Wilde, London: Fourth Estate, 71 The bust, which can be seen in a photograph taken of Wilde and his family and friends, appears to be about 30 cm in height. It was not sold in the 1895 auction.

Hallway, dining room, bedrooms

Constance’s brother, Otho Holland Lloyd, wrote a detailed description of the home in 1917,[Lloyd, O. H.], ‘Stray Recollections’, The Soil, 1, 155–6 revealing that hanging in the hallway (quelle horreur!) were ‘two large white-framed engravings of [...] “Apollo and the Muses” and “Diana and Nymphs bathing”’. The former may have been after Raphael’s fresco in the Vatican; the latter, a painting by Rembrandt (view here). Constance had seen the Vatican’s Raphael frescoes in 1893,Moyle, F. (2011) Constance: The Tragic and Scandalous Life of Mrs Oscar Wilde, London: John Murray, n. 14, 343 and the engraving may have been a souvenir of her trip.

Apollo Sitting on Parnassus by Marcantonio Raimondi (1517-20), after Raphael. Image: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

Narcissus, or Dionysus, from a model found in Pompeii. Image: Rotherham Heritage Services/ArtUK.

Tanagra figurine of a draped woman. Image: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. For more examples, click here.

The walls of Constance’s bedroom were decorated with ‘photographs in Oxford frames, of pictures by the Italian masters’. Oscar will not have approved of these. He told audiences at his lecture on The House Beautiful to ‘[p]ut no photographs of paintings on your walls – they are libels on great masters; there is no way to get a worse idea of a painter than by a photograph of his work’.O’Brien, K. (1982) Oscar Wilde in Canada: An Apostle for the Arts, Toronto: Personal Library, 177

Bronze Narcissus

On the dining room mantelshelf there was ‘a small green bronze figure of Narcissus’. Paula Murphy has suggested that this was probably a copy of the bronze Narcissus that achieved instant fame after it was discovered at Pompeii in 1862.Murphy, P. (1998) The quare on the square: a statue of Oscar Wilde for Dublin, in McCormack, J., Wilde the Irishman, Yale University Press, 127-39, 135-6 The statue was widely reproduced and was a favourite souvenir of the grand tour, hence why Lloyd was able to identify it. The original is held at the Museo Nazionale in Naples, where Wilde may have seen it in 1877 and 1897. A bronze Narcissus with ‘heavy eyelids’ is mentioned in Wilde’s dialogue The Critic as Artist, and the protagonist in his story The Young King possesses ‘a laughing Narcissus in green bronze’.Guy, J. M. (Ed.) (2007) The Complete Works of Oscar Wilde, Vol. 4: Criticism: Historical Criticism, Intentions, The Soul of Man, Oxford University Press, 136.5; Small, I. (Ed.) (2017) The Complete Works of Oscar Wilde, Vol. VIII: The Short Fiction, Oxford University Press, 115.108.

Tanagra figurine?

The poet W. B. Yeats saw a ‘terra-cotta statuette’ on the dining room table.Yeats, W. B. (1922) The Trembling of the Veil, London: T. Werner Laurie, 82 This may be one of the Tanagra figurines that were souvenirs of Wilde’s 1877 trip to Greece, and which he had previously displayed in his rooms at Magdalen.Mikhail, E. H. (Ed.) (1979) Oscar Wilde: Interviews and Recollections, London and Basingstoke: Macmillan, 16 Wilde repeatedly referred to the beauty of Tanagra figurines in his writings.In ‘L’Envoi’, his introduction to Rennell Rodd’s Rose Leaf and Apple Leaf, Wilde writes of ‘'those beautiful little Greek figures which in the olive woods round Tanagra men can still find, with the faint gilding and the fading crimson not yet fled from hair and lips and raiment’. For more examples, see Guy, J. (Ed.). (2007) The Complete Works of Oscar Wilde, Vol. 4: Criticism: Historical Criticism, Intentions, The Soul of Man (Vol. 4), Oxford University Press, 459–60.

Other artworks

Oscar and Constance owned many other artworks, but it is unclear where they were displayed.

Burne-Jones drawings

Wilde’s list in De Profundis of artworks he was distressed to learn would be sold is topped by his Edward Burne-Jones drawings.Holland, M. & Hart-Davis, R. (Eds.) (2000) The Complete Letters of Oscar Wilde, London: Fourth Estate, 713 No Burne-Jones drawings appear in the 1895 sale. Constance may have rescued them as two were sold in the 1900 sale.Moyle, F. (2011) Constance: The Tragic and Scandalous Life of Mrs Oscar Wilde, London: John Murray, 323 We know that there were originally four drawings. The author Violet Hunt wrote to Oscar in 1881, ‘you quite deserve your four Burne-Jones drawings’,Sturgis, M. (2018) Oscar: A Life, London: Head of Zeus, n. 70, 769 and Godwin’s design for frames for the drawings (view here, bottom) shows that there were four. At least two appear to have been portrait studies. Given that Godwin’s designs are on the same pages as his designs for the frames for the Whistler etchings, it is probable that the Burne-Jones drawings were, like the Whistler etchings, displayed in the drawing room, but I am aware of no firsthand account that places them there. Godwin’s designs show that the four drawings were about 6.5 × 8.5 in (16.5 × 21.5 cm) and were to be displayed in a row with a shared mounting, spaced 4 in (10 cm) from one another and 2.5 in (6.5 cm) from a shared frame. This frame was enclosed in a larger mounting and frame. The whole frieze was 47 in (119 cm) wide and 21 in (53 cm) high.British Library, Add MS 81753

Sarasate picture

Sketch of Arrangement in Black: Portrait of Señor Pablo de Sarasate by James McNeill Whistler. Image: private collection.

A picture of the Spanish violin virtuoso Pablo de Sarasate by Whistler was sold at the 1900 sale; its current whereabouts are unknown.Moyle, F. (2011) Constance: The Tragic and Scandalous Life of Mrs Oscar Wilde, London: John Murray, 323; whistlerpaintings.gla.ac.uk Accessed 21 July 2022. Whistler painted Sarasate in 1884 and the portrait is now in the Carnegie Institute, Pittsburgh. Wilde admired the portrait, telling the Norwegian painter Frits Thaulow that it was ‘much better’ than the man himself. He continued:

Sarasate was immensely flattered by the furore his portrait produced. He stayed the whole time in the room where it hung. But he looked shockingly ordinary by the side of it. I met him there one day, and I said to him, ‘For God’s sake, don’t stay in this room. You must never come into this room.’ And I led him out.Mikhail, E. H. (Ed.) (1979) Oscar Wilde: Interviews and Recollections, London and Basingstoke: Macmillan, 349

Whister made an etching based on the portrait and it seems likely that the Wildes owned a copy. Constance made a point of attending gatherings where Sarasate was likely to be playing,Moyle, F. (2011) Constance: The Tragic and Scandalous Life of Mrs Oscar Wilde, London: John Murray, 152 and on 21 June 1889 he sent her a ‘[p]etit souvenir’ to paste into her autograph book: six bars from his composition Zigeunerweisen.Cox, D. (2022) Constance Wilde’s Autograph Book 1886-1896, London: The Oscar Wilde Society, 102–3 The fact that the Wildes’ picture was sold in 1900 suggests that Constance valued it and recovered it before the 1895 sale.

Whistler sketch of Sarah Bernhardt Maud Franklin

Study of Maud Franklin by James McNeill Whistler. Image: University of Glasgow.

Lot 123 in the Tite Street sale was ‘[a] pencil sketch of a Lady, by Whistler, and 2 crayon full length figures, framed.’ The pencil sketch was Whistler’s study of his model and mistress, Maud Franklin, done in chalk on brown paper. A report of the auction states that a ‘portrait sketch, on brown paper’ by Whistler sold for £15.‘Two Pictures’, The Evening News (London, UK), 25 Apr. 1895, 3. This sketch had come into Wilde’s possession fifteen years earlier. When Whistler was bankrupted by the libel case he had brought against John Ruskin, his possessions were auctioned by Sotheby’s. In the catalogue of the Whistler sale, this picture (Lot 82) is described as a ‘crayon sketch, by Whistler, of Sarah Bernhardt, seated, holding a book; exhibited at the Grosvenor Gallery’.Sotheby’s, Property of J. A. M. Whistler, 12–13 Feb. 1880, view source. The picture may be one of the ‘Three Studies in Chalk and Pastel’ (no. 267) at the 1879 Summer Exhibition at the Grosvenor Gallery (view source). Wilde reviewed this exhibition; although he does not mention the picture, he must have seen it there. It sold for £5, 5 shillings.‘Sale of Mr. Whistler’s Collection’, The Daily News (London, UK), 14 Feb. 1880, 14 Feb. 1880, 2. According to Whistler’s biographers, Joseph and Elizabeth Robins Pennell,

[a] crayon sketch, catalogued as a portrait of Sarah Bernhardt, was knocked down for five guineas to Oscar Wilde, who asked her to sign it, which she did, writing also that it was very like her. It might have been handed down as her portrait for ever, had it not been bought up at Oscar Wilde’s sale, and found its way back to Whistler, who declared that Madame Bernhardt never sat to him for that, or any other portrait.Pennell, E. R. & Pennell, J. (1908) The Life of James McNeill Whistler, J. B. Lippincott Company, I, 260

The picture remained in Whistler’s possession and was eventually bequeathed to the University of Glasgow, where its record states that it was purchased at the Tite Street sale on Whistler’s instructions by the dealer D. C. Thomson for £15 15s.Study of Maud Franklin (1877-1879), James McNeill Whistler, University of Glasgow, GLAHA:46078, view source. See also a letter from D. C. Thompson to Whistler, University of Glasgow, GB 247 MS Whistler T163, view source. Bernhardt’s inscription on the glass corroborates the Pennells’ story: ‘Je trouve cela très ressemblante [I find it very like] | Sarah Bernhardt’.

Rothenstein pastels

William Rothenstein drew a pastel of Lord Alfred Douglas for Wilde, who wrote to the artist that he would like the portrait to have ‘a black and white frame with no margin or mounting. The lovely drawing is complete in itself.’ It showed Douglas in profile, wearing flannels and lying back in an armchair, and was entitled ‘The Editor of the Spirit Lamp at work’. The title must have been written on the portrait, as it was given in the 1895 catalogue (Lot 124). The picture was bought by the Leversons and passed to Wilde’s friend More Adey, but its present whereabouts are unknown.Holland, M. & Hart-Davis, R. (Eds.) (2000) The Complete Letters of Oscar Wilde, London: Fourth Estate, 564

‘A crayon portrait of Oscar Wilde by Will Rothenstein’ was also sold in the 1895 auction (Lot 133). There is a sketch of Wilde by Rothenstein dated to about 1894, but it is a not-especially flattering caricature and it seems unlikely that Wilde would have wanted to own a copy.Holland, M. (1997) The Wilde Album, London: Fourth Estate, 143 The picture that Wilde owned is probably the one that Rothenstein describes in his memoirs:

Oscar Wilde also sat to me for his portrait, in a red waistcoat, which he wore, doubtless, in imitation of Théophile Gautier. The pastel I made was exhibited at the small exhibition I held with Conder. I think it was rather more frank than he liked – only its colour pleased him, the red waistcoat and gold background. ‘It is a lovely landscape, my dear Will; when I sit to you again you must do a real portrait.’ Nevertheless, he acquired the pastel and used to take it about with him. It was stolen from him a few years afterwards in Naples, and has never been traced.Rothenstein, W. (1931) Men and Memories: Recollections of William Rothenstein 1872–1900, London: Faber & Faber Ltd, 90

If the picture was, as Rothenstein says, stolen in Naples (perhaps by the same servants who stole Wilde’s clothes while he was absent from the Villa Giudice, the home he shared with Douglas in 1897), it is likely that Rothenstein had bought it at the auction and returned it to Wilde upon his release.

Miles drawing

Oscar Wilde by Frank Miles. Image: Coakley.

Lot 131 in the Tite Street catalogue is: ‘A pencil drawing by Frank Miles, oak frame, and ditto portrait of a Lady, framed, and engraved portrait of Mr. Wilde’. Wilde lived with Frank Miles before he departed for his American tour in 1881. The pencil drawing of a lady may be of the actress and Professional Beauty Lillie Langtry, who was a friend of both Wilde and Miles, although the auctioneers probably would have named her in the catalogue if this was the case. The sitter was likely someone less famous.

A portrait of Wilde by Miles that may be the one referred to in the catalogue is reproduced in Vyvyan Holland’s Son of Oscar Wilde and Davis Coakley’s Oscar Wilde: The Importance of Being Irish.Coakley, D. (1994) Oscar Wilde: The Importance of Being Irish, Dublin: Town House and Country House, 137; Holland, V. (1954) Son of Oscar Wilde, London: Rupert Hart-Davis, 212. Neither author provides a credit for the image; it may have been in Holland’s personal collection. If so, and if it is one of the images described in Lot 131, it must have been purchased by one of Wilde’s friends and later given to Vyvyan.

Portraits of Constance and Cyril

Constance Lloyd by Louis Desange (1882). Image: Holland, M.

In November 1891 the artist Laura Hope née Troubridge was, as she put it, ‘deep in a portrait of Cyril Wilde, who is awfully picturesque and nice to do’. According to Hyde, Hope later visited Osborne House, the royal residence on the Isle of Wight, to paint a portrait of her cousin, a lady in waiting to Princess Beatrice of Battenburg. Queen Victoria, who was staying at Osborne at the time, asked to see a finished example of the artist’s work. Hope wired to Constance to dispatch Oscar with the picture of Cyril. When the Queen saw it she was impressed and commissioned Hope to paint portraits of members of the Royal Family in the same style. Shortly afterwards Adrian Hope wrote to his wife: ‘Have just met Oscar who was killing [i.e. amusing] about the picture of Cyril for which he said he expected a knighthood’.Hyde, H. M. (1976) Oscar Wilde, London: Eyre Methuen, 139–40 The present location of the portrait is unknown. It was not sold in 1895 and may have been removed beforehand by Constance. As no visitors to Tite Street mentioned it, it may have hung in Constance’s bedroom.

If the oil portrait of Constance by Louis Desange (1882) also hung in Tite Street, it too was removed by Constance before the sale; it is currently in the possession of Merlin Holland.Merlin Holland has been photographed standing before the portrait (view here): Helena de Bertodano, ‘My Wilde Grandfather’, The Sunday Telegraph (London, UK), 5 Oct. 1997, Review, 3.

Landscapes purchased in North America

Evening After the Storm (1887) by Homer Watson. This landscape with sheep is probably similar to that owned by Wilde. Image: National Gallery of Canada

While visiting Canada in 1882 Wilde bought ‘a marine view’ by John Christopher Miles.‘Oscar Wilde’, The Daily Sun (Saint John, NB), 14 Oct. 1882, 4, repr. Marland, R. (Ed.) (2022) Oscar Wilde: The Complete Interviews, Jena: Little Eye, 473–6, 476 He also commissioned a landscape by Homer Watson, whose work he had seen and praised at an exhibition in Toronto, and later wrote to thank him for it: ‘It is quite what I desired from your hand, in tone and technique and feeling; the treatment of the sheep is excellent and the whole sense of rain and wind entirely free and delightful’.Holland, M. & Hart-Davis, R. (Eds.) (2000) The Complete Letters of Oscar Wilde, London: Fourth Estate, 341. In The Complete Letters Wilde’s letter to Watson is dated 15 February 1888, but more recent evidence suggests that it was probably written c. October 1882 (Merlin Holland, personal correspondence, 23 Mar. 2022). Neither picture is mentioned in the 1895 catalogue and both appear to be lost.

A print of Whistler?

Yvonne Ivory has noted that in 1892 Mortimer Menpes sent Wilde a print of Whistler he had executed, asking the recipient his opinion of it. This was after both Menpes and Wilde had fallen out with Whistler. Whether Wilde displayed or even kept the print is unknown.Ivory, Y. (2023) Undated, unpublished, unpacked: Wilde’s Lyric Club letters to Mortimer Menpes and Henry Jalland, The Wildean, 63, 107–42, 123

The 1895 auction catalogue lists a number of other works, including:

  • ‘Lot 118: An oil painting, Study of a Head, by J[ames] Car[r]ol Beckwith, exhibited, a ditto, Head—Jasmyn, a ditto, An Angel, by A. D. May, a ditto, Chinaman, by T[heodore] Wores.’ For an example of an oil study of a head by Beckwith, click here. Wilde spent much time socialising with Beckwith in New York in November and December of 1882, and may have acquired the painting then.Cooper, J., & Ryding, E. (2022) Carroll Beckwith, https://oscarwildeinamerica.blog/2022/10/12/carroll-beckwith Accessed 12 Oct. 2022. Wores was from San Francisco and painted scenes in the city’s Chinatown, which Wilde visited in 1882.
  • Lot 128: ‘An engraving, La Cigale.’ This could be an engraving of one of several known paintings by the name of La Cigale, including those by Jules Lefebvre (1872), Frederick Arthur Bridgman (1882), and Edouard Bisson (1890). Other possibilities are is that it relates to the English version of the French play La Cigale, given in 1877 at London’s Gaiety Theatre as The Grasshopper (Whistler is known to have drawn Ellen ‘Nellie’ Farren in the title role); or to the comic opera La Cigale, which opened at the Lyric Theatre on 9 October 1890 (the Wildes were invited to a supper and ball after the anniversary performance).The Correspondence of James McNeill Whistler, whistler.arts.gla.ac.uk Accessed 5 Aug. 2022; ‘La Cigale,’ The Era (London, UK), 17 Oct. 1891, 15.
  • Lot 129: ‘Two photos of full length figures, frames, and a small Etching.’
  • Lot 130: ‘A water colour drawing by H[enry Nelson] O’Neil, View in county Monaghan, and another of Mountain Stream.’ For another Irish landscape by O’Neil, click here.
  • Lot 132: ‘Three water colour drawings, 2 photographs, and 2 frames.’ Thomas Wright speculates that this lot may have included Wilde’s own schoolboy watercolours,Wright, T. (2016) Note on a watercolour by the young Oscar Wilde, The Wildean, 48, 127-30, 128 which are all Irish landscapes.

Comments