The Oscar Wilde Monument is located in Merrion Square in Dublin, Ireland,
In every sense larger than life, Oscar Wilde, at 1.88m (6ft 3 inches) was a huge man, and here he is, a life sized statue, in the Merrion Square Gardens, Dublin, on the corner opposite his home at number 1, Merrion Square, just around the corner from his old alma mater, Trinity College, Dublin.
As a young boy Oscar would have played at the very spot where the monument now stands. He is depicted here, aged about forty, at the height of his career, dressed in his famous smoking jacket, which is carved in solid jade. There is a belief that jade can give a person the power to live forever, something which Oscar has certainly achieved so far through his work and life.
If you look at Oscar’s head you will see that the left side of the face is happy while the right side is sad. His nature was deeply divided, and it was his tragedy that he could always see both sides of the paradox - the truth behind the mask. His face here is both life-like and mask-like, both tragic and comedic.
The monument is a three-part sculpture with references from Oscar Wilde's life. Carved in semi precious stones, he sits on a large 35 ton quartz boulder from the nearby Wicklow Mountains. Across from him on one side is his wife, Constance, and on the other, the torso of a young Dionysus, God of youth, wine, poetry and theatre, who was an inspiration to Oscar. Dionysus and Constance are made in bronze, a reference to Oscar's love of all things Greek. Oscar gazes between the two, half smiling, half frowning, towards his childhood home.
Anyone who has read the ‘Sphynx’ will know how much Oscar adored beautiful stones. So the sculpture is made from exotic materials, such as green nephrite jade from the Yukon for the jacket. White jade from Guatemala for the head and hands, and a rare pink stone called thulite from Norway for the collar and cuffs. The trousers are of blue pearl granite and the shoes and socks are black Indian granite. Shoelaces, buttons and the green carnation are bronze., and he wears a Trinity Old Boys tie, made in coloured glazed porcelain. Also two scarab rings that he wore on his left and right hands in honour of both good and bad luck.
On the pillar of life, kneels the figure of Constance, 6 months pregnant, her hands cradling the life she is carrying, gazing across the path over her shoulder at Oscar. It is significant that Oscars first homosexual encounter occurred when she was at this stage of pregnancy with her second child. Here the figure is complete and realistic, and represents the tyranny of fact, and Oscar is not looking at her but beyond her.
The bronze torso of Dionysus stands on the pillar of Art. Oscar had a plaster cast of a statue of this god in his study in Tite Street, London, associating this image not only with wine and youth but also with drama. Because it is fragmented, the sculpture represents not any particular body, but the unattainable or lost ideal that is Art.
Beneath the male torso and Constance are stone plinths of Indian granite and Azul Bahia. Etched into the plinths are Oscar Wilde quotations. Everyone knows an Oscar Wilde quote. In order to bring Oscars words into the monument and to convey something of his many voices, Danny asked a variety of people associated with the Irish art world, and people who helped with the making of the monument, to write out a favourite Wilde epigram in their own handwriting. Categorised under Art or Life, these were then cut into the two pillars. Headed by one in Oscars’s own handwriting, corrections and all, from a previously unpublished extract in one of his notebooks discovered in the Clark Andrews Memorial Library in Los Angeles.
Click the link for the list of quotations and the people who chose them Oscars Words
The sculpture was unveiled in 1997 by Oscar's grandson, Merlin Holland, here in conversation with the poets Seamus Heaney and John Montegue