Oscar Wilde portrait and prison door to be displayed in UK for the first time
A portrait of Oscar Wilde and the writer’s prison door is to go on display in the UK for the first time.
The full-length painting which was given to Wilde and his wife Constance as a wedding present, was sold by the couple after they became bankrupt.
The door from Reading Gaol, where Wilde was incarcerated from 1895 to 1897 for gross indecency, will go on display as part of Tate Britain’s Queer British Art Show.
The exhibition goes on display to mark 50 years after homosexuality was decriminalised in the UK.
Wilde’s portrait was painted by Robert Goodloe Harper Pennington in 1884.
The director of Tate Britain Alex Farquharson said the painting features the artist “on the verge of success.
“It’s an extraordinary image of Wilde on the brink of fame, before imprisonment destroyed his health and reputation,” he adds.
“Viewing it next to the door of his jail cell will be a powerful experience that captures the triumph and tragedy of his career.”
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Clare Barlow, the curator at Tate Britain adds: “The 6ft oil painting depicts him as a slender 27-year-old on the cusp of success.
“His stance is confident, holding a pair of gloves in one hand while the other clasps a silver-topped cane.
“It presents a different, more sombre image to the one we are more familiar with.”
The exhibition runs from 5 April to 1 October, 2017 at Tate Britain.
The home of playwright Wilde and landmarks linked to other gay figures were awarded special status earlier this year.
Earlier this year, the prison where Wilde served time for ‘gross indecency’ re-opened its doors as part of an art exhibition dedicated to him.