Oscar Wilde: Splendour and Misery of a Poet at the Petit Palais

Exhibitions | Outings | Cultural events
Oscar Wilde vu par Esprit de France
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For the first time, an exhibition is being dedicated to the French-speaking, wistful-eyed dandy. 

Over a century after his death in Paris, without even a word being said in his memory, France finally pays tribute to Oscar Wilde. For the first time, an exhibition untitled "Insolence Incarnate" is being dedicated to the French-speaking, wistful-eyed dandy and well-known Francophile, provocateur at the Petit Palais.   

Of all his well-known ironic and charmingly cruel aphorisms, of which Oscar Wilde was supreme, the one that sums his life up the most was probably, “The only things one never regrets are one's mistakes”. The lavish design of the exhibition dedicated to the “absolute impertinent” does justice to his love for “making a scene” because there was nothing that the author of Portrait of Dorian Gray enjoyed more than a good scandal and provocation. The photographs taken by Napoleon Sarony on Oscar Wilde’s arrival in New York to participate in a series of conferences on English Renaissance in the Arts, sporting more frills than a rock star are evidence of his love for causing a stir. Visitors to the exhibition can trace his remarkable rise to fame, on his return from the United States through some 200 items, including personal effects, letters, rare manuscripts, pictures and photographs. They are all testament to the boisterous life he led, following the success of his novel and play, The importance of Being Earnest. Married for 13 years to Constance Lloyd and a father, his life was to undergo profound change when, as highlighted in the exhibition, his relationship with Lord Alfred Douglas, who he fondly referred to as, “Bosie”, earned him a two-year conviction with hard labour for homosexuality. While in prison in Reading, Wilde wrote a long letter to his lover. This was subsequently published under the title, De Profundis, and spoke about his condition and the intensity of his love: “…to have had you for a part of my life, the only part I now consider beautiful, is enough for me…”

For the visitor that wants to pay their last respect to the poet in final resting place, he is buried at the Père-Lachaise cemetery in Paris, where Jacob Epstein built a monumental shrine for him in the form of a sphynx.

Practical information :

Avenue Winston Churchill, Paris 8
Metro: Champs-Élysées Clemenceau
Open every day (except Mondays) from 10 am until 6 pm and on Friday until 9 pm
Ratings : From 7 to 10€

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