Art And Culture

Oscar Wilde Portrait for UK

Portrait of Oscar Wilde painted by Robert Harper Pennington (1881)Portrait of Oscar Wilde painted by Robert Harper Pennington (1881)

A portrait of the writer Oscar Wilde, which had to be sold off after he went bankrupt, is to return from America for the first time in nearly a century.

It will be displayed at Tate Britain, in an exhibition called Queer British Art 1861-1967, which opens in April, the Art Newspaper reported.

Robert Harper Pennington, an American artist who painted the full-length portrait (1881), gave it to Wilde and his wife Constance as a wedding present in 1884. It was the couple’s most prized possession, hung above the fireplace in their London home.

Later, Wilde’s legal expenses led to him being declared bankrupt, and the Pennington portrait had to be sold. In the 1920s, it was bought by a US collector and the portrait was subsequently acquired by the William Andrews Clark Memorial Library at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Alex Farquharson, the director of Tate Britain, describes the portrait as “an extraordinary image of Wilde on the brink of fame, before imprisonment destroyed his health and reputation”.


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