The Oscar Wilde Monument is located in Merrion Square in Dublin, Ireland,
The sculpture was unveiled in 1997 by Oscar's grandson, Merlin Holland
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.
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.
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.
Between the two figures is an open space, through which visitors pass against the backdrop of his childhood home. Oscar was fond of people watching, which he did from his bedroom window as a child, and then later in life in the garden..
He favored opposites. This informed his facial expression, as well as the tension of the young male torso with the pregnant Constance. Also the two scarab rings that he wore on his left and right hands in honor of both good and bad luck.
Beneath the male torso and Constance are two stone plinths of Indian granite and Azul Bahia. Etched into the plinths are Oscar Wilde quotations, selected by established Irish poets, artists, politicians, writers and close relations of Wilde, rendered in their handwriting.