oscar wilde


Jacob Epstein, Standing Mother and Child, 1911, Hayward Bequest, Carrick Hill Collection. On display, Carrick Hill, Adelaide, South Australia. Must credit artist/title Source: Supplied

Oscar Wilde's tomb in Pere Lachaise cemetery Lipstick on your collar - theory is that Wilde's fans put on lipstick and then kiss the tomb. There are other, less complimentary, theories.

This weekend "The Australian" had a piece about sculptor Jacob Epstein, who  first came to prominence when he shocked Edwardian England with 18 sexually explicit nude statues made for the facade of London's British Medical Association building in 1908. It was the first of many controversies for Epstein.

Later, while in Paris, Epstein's tomb of Oscar Wilde in Pere Lachaise cemetery was condemned and covered in a tarpaulin by the French police. Of this scandal Epstein commented: "Imagine my horror when arriving at the cemetery to find that the sex parts of the figure had been swaddled in plaster! And horribly I was told I must either castrate or fig leaf the monument!"

ED: A prominent penis that "featured" on the sculpture was broken off, and it is said that for a time it served the superintendent of the cemetery as an effective paperweight.

'Life doesn't get any easier, it just dresses up in furs
Life is like a thief to ya, it steals away the years.
Fifty years later, they publish my fables, I will be long gone,
Taking a dirt nap, under a world that done me wrong.
In exile I died, for mercy I cried
But they just turned their backs on me...'

Tyla, Ballad of Fingal O'Flahertie

Explanatory note: This post is an indulgence; I am an admirer of both Epstein and Wilde.