Wilde, Oscar. (1854–1900)

Autograph Signature from his 1882 "House Beautiful" Lecture in New Orleans

Full ink signature, “Oscar Wilde / New Orleans / June 26” on an off-white album page, the year [18]82 added in another hand. 7.75 x 4.75 inches (19.5 x 12.25 cm). Together with a modern postcard reproduction photograph. Light handling stains, else fine. The autograph page removed by Schubertiade from an album kept the by the great-grandfather of our consignor, who lived in New Orleans 1867-1939 and was at the time part of a small theatre group there.

In 1882, the Irish poet and dandy, not yet a playwright but making himself known for his dress style and quips, embarked on an expenses-paid tour of America. William S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan had satirized Wilde and the Aesthetic Movement in their operetta Patience, but when it was to transfer to New York on Broadway, producer Richard D’Oyly Carte feared that New Yorkers would not get the jokes. Wilde was enticed to travel to America and give talks on art and his decorative philosophy, dressed as their Bunthorne character.  When he arrived, however, Wilde quickly turned the tour to his advantage, selling himself and not Gilbert and Sullivan. Wilde’s tour earned him fame, an extraordinary amount of press coverage, and a good deal of money. On the day of the present inscription, Wilde lectured on "The House Beautiful" at the Spanish Fort Casino Pavilion at Lake Pontchartrain Bayou St. John, New Orleans, LA. 

Wilde lectured in New Orleans for the first time ten days earlier and had created this alternative talk for when he lectured more than once in the same city. The lecture was a domesticated version of his general theme that focused on the beauty of handicrafts in the home such as in furniture, carving, and wallpaper. The lecture became known as "The House Beautiful" but it began life as "Interior and Exterior House Decoration" or, confusingly, "Art Decoration," often with a longer more descriptive subtitle.