ALSO TWO MINOR SCULPTURES
Today was the second day of the 2023 St Patrick’s Festival here in Dublin but I decided to avoid the areas that were too busy for my liking so I visited Merrion Square and there were even fewer people than I had expected in the park and the area in general.
Oscar Fingal O’Flahertie Wills Wilde (October 16, 1854 – November 30, 1900) was an Irish playwright, novelist, poet, and short story writer. Known for his barbed wit, he was one of the most successful playwrights of late Victorian London, and one of the greatest celebrities of his day. As the result of a famous trial, he suffered a dramatic downfall and was imprisoned for two years of hard labour after being convicted of the offence of “gross indecency”. The scholar H. Montgomery Hyde suggests this term implies homosexual acts not amounting to buggery in British legislation of the time.
This is, without doubt, a favourite of mine and I spend a lot of time trying to get the “best photograph ever” but it does not bother me that I need to try again.
Danny Osborne is an artist born in Dorset, England in 1949.He is a resident of Iqaluit, Nunavut, Canada and Cork, Ireland. Osborne studied at Bournemouth & Poole College of Art. He is best known for his public sculptures, particularly his Oscar Wilde Memorial Sculpture “The Quare in the Square in Merrion Square Park” (originally commissioned by Guinness Ireland Group for £45,000 and located across from Ireland’s National Gallery.
I like to listen to the tourist guides explaining this public art installation to visitors from all parts of the world and how often their descriptions are incorrect or incomplete. But, of course, the exact details are not all that important.
In 2016 I mentioned that the restoration of the Oscar Wilde installation had been completed with the return of the two minor bronzes to their plinths. The stone plinths or pillars are covered in quotations from Wilde. One has a bronze figure of a pregnant naked woman kneeling on the top, while the other has a bronze male torso. One explanation is that they indicate Wilde’s ambiguous sexuality and aesthetic sensibilities.
At the time I also reported that the orientation of the female nude has been corrected. It should be noted that the female nude is Oscar’s wife [Constance Lloyd] who was pregnant when Oscar had his first homosexual encounter. Originally she was facing Oscar but someone tried to steal the bronze and when the park staff restored it they installed it facing the wrong direction and then the tour guides came up with stories to explain why she had turned her back on her husband.
She is facing a different direction now but I am not 100% convinced that one could claim that she is now facing Oscar. Maybe she should be on the other plinth.
The sculptor Danny Osborne used complementary colour stones and also sought out stones with varying textures to give a more lifelike representation of Oscar Wilde than you would find in a conventional statue.
Wilde’s jacket is green stone which is complemented by red stone cuffs. The sculpture includes two stone pillars which are covered in quotations by Oscar Wilde. Placed on top of the pillars are two sculptures, one of the sculptures is a bronze figure of a pregnant naked woman kneeling this represents Oscar’s wife Constance, while the other pillar has a bronze male torso.
The two pillars which flank Oscar Wilde on both sides are used to set out his thoughts, opinions, witticisms on art and life for all to see and judge. These quotes were selected by a mixture of poets, public figures, artists, and scientists, who use Wilde’s own words to pay tribute to him.