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Oscar Wilde - Lady Windemere's Fan

Grand Auctions will be selling paintings of costumes for Wilde’s Lady Windermere’s Fan. The play is well known, especially for Wilde’s epigrams. ‘We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars’, ‘Wicked women bother one, good women bore one, that is the only difference between them,’ are two of many.

John Bartlett

The play is certainly not one of his best, but is good fun. John Bartlett, the painter of ‘Lady Windemere’ and ‘Mrs Erlynne’ was an actor, costume designer, artist and Wilde expert. He is also well known for his comments on a recording that appeared in 1900 at the Paris Universal Exhibition purporting to be Wilde reading his poem, The Ballad of Reading Gaol. Eventually it was discovered that it was not Wilde, the recording had actually been made after 1920, when Wilde was dead. There are more books written about Wilde than any other writer except Shakespeare.

Folkestone connection

Wilde has a connection with Grand Auctions’ home town, Folkestone. Ever eager to gain publicity, in 1879 Wilde travelled to Folkestone to throw a large bunch of lilies at the feet of Sarah Bernhardt, the French stage and early film actress, as she stepped off the boat returning from her season in Paris. Later he became her unpaid secretary. As in Lady Windermere’s Fan, ‘What is a cynic? The man who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.

Click here to contact Jonathan Riley, paintings specialist at Grand Auctions, Folkestone, Kent.