In 1997, sculptor Danny Osborne was commissioned to create a life-sized statue of Oscar Wilde in Merrion Square Gardens. Positioned near Wilde’s former residence at number 1, Merrion Square, and close to Trinity College, where he studied, the statue captures Wilde’s large figure of 1.88m (6ft 3 inches), and larger-than-life persona. The poet, dramatist and novelist became somewhat of a living embodiment of the the Aesthetic movement in the late nineteenth century, challenging Victorian puritanism with his ideas on beauty and personal freedom. His wit and flamboyance brought both fame and notoriety, which led to his imprisonment for “illegal homosexual activity”, as well as his financial and physical ruin. He soon met a tragic end in Paris at only 46.
As a child, Oscar very well may have played in the park where the monument now stands. It depicts him in his prime, at the height of his career. He’s donning his iconic smoking jacket carved in solid jade. This gemstone is thought to provide immortality, though the author doesn’t really need it. He already achieved such status through his enduring work and legacy.
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