Public Art: Oscar Wilde and Eduard Vilde sculpture (copy of original which resides in Estonia)
Sculptor: © Tiiu Kirsipuu
Description: A bronze sculpture of Irish writer Oscar Wilde (1854–1900) and Estonian writer Eduard Vilde (1856–1933) sitting together on a granite bench. Despite the two authors never having met, Kirsipuu envisaged a scene of what it would have been like had they. Oscar Wilde is depicted holding his walking cane in one hand and his hat resting on his lap. Eduard Vilde has his legs crossed as he looks intently at Wilde. The to appear deep in conversation. The scene is divided by a single street lamp, suggesting an evening chat.
Date Unveiled: 2004
Location: Oscar Wilde and Eduard Vilde sit quietly outside Cafe Wilde on William Street in Galway, Ireland
Background to the Oscar Wilde and Eduard Vilde sculpture: The original sculpture was erected in Estonia in 1999. This copy was gifted to Southern Ireland from Estonia in 2004 when they joined the Europian Union (EU).
Who were Oscar Wilde and Eduard Vilde? : Where does one start when writing about Oscar Wilde? The witty genius became one of London’s most revered playwrights until his spectacular fall from grace that led to jail and an early demise. Oscar Fingal O’Flahertie Wills Wilde was born in Dublin in 1854. His mother was a poet who went under the pseudonym “Speranza” while his father was a well-known ear and eye surgeon. Until the age of 9 young Oscar was homeschooled.
Whilst attending Trinity College and Oxford, Oscar had his poetry published in various magazines. His love of poetry soon expanded into short stories and essays. Socially he hung in artistic circles where he could unleash his wit and flamboyant ways. The press never knew what to make of Wilde and his outrageous attire.
His works often centred around a secret sin or indiscretion. In the 1890s Wilde’s life fell apart around him. He was found guilty of being a “sodomite”, following an affair with Lord Alfred Douglas and sentenced to two years hard labour. Apon his release he immediately went to France a bankrupt and somewhat shattered man. Oscar Wilde died suddenly in 1900 from acute meningitis, brought on by an ear infection.
Eduard Vilde was born in 1865 on a farm in Estonia. He started his career as a journalist and became, like Wilde, he was an outspoken critic. His barbs were aimed at German Landowners and of the Tsarist rule. As a prolific writer, he began putting pen to paper and publishing novels, including The War in Mahtra and The Milkman from Mäeküla.
Acknowledgements: Big thank you to Dee and Paul for kindly sending the photograph.