Victorian author George Meredith with his daughter and granddaughters, photographed by Alvin Langdon Coburn, 1904.
After more than 50 years, Coburn still vividly remembered his visit to Meredith, and even wrote an article on their meeting.
And what a head! I think I have never seen any modern person who was even remotely like him. He resembled an ancient Greek bust, a head of Zeus, calm in its tranquility, regal in its dignity. I felt that I simply must photograph him.
Oscar Wilde photographed by Napoleon Sarony, 1882.
These photographs were taken in January of 1882, when Wilde had first arrived in America for his year long lecture tour. All were taken in the studio of the most famous portrait photographer of the time, Canadian born Napoleon Sarony. The various furs, capes, velvet jackets, and stockings Wilde wore for the photo shoot reflected the attire he would wear to his lectures.
It certainly surprised me when I found out that the majority of Wilde’s most iconic images came from the same session, and were taken in the U.S. when Wilde had only published a yet to be produced play, Vera; or, the Nihilists, and a single book of verse (which Wilde can be seen holding in the first and second photographs).
Some photographs French author Emile Zola took of himself and his family enjoying lunch in their garden, at various stages in his children’s lives.
The Artist John Everett Millias, his wife Euphemia ‘Effie” Gray, and two of their daughters, Effie (left) and Mary, photographed by Lewis Carroll.
T. S. Eliot photographed by Lady Ottoline Morrell, playing a game on her lawn in 1920.
The young woman with short hair is Morrell’s daughter, Julian, and the woman in the white hat is Maria Huxley, the wife of Aldous Huxley.
Napoleon III, Empress Eugenie, and the Prince Imperial photographed by Disderi, c. 1859.
The Complete set of Aubrey Beardsley’s illustrations for Oscar Wilde’s play, Salome.
In 1893, Aubrey Beardsley was inspired to create and publish a single illustration based on Wilde’s play (the original is visually similar to what would later become The Climax, seen in this set as the final image before the tailpiece. Wilde loved the drawing, sent Beardsley a copy of the play containing the inscription “For Aubrey: for the only artist who, beside myself, knows what the dance of the seven veils is, and can see that invisible dance”, and soon commissioned him to illustrate the entire play. But unfortunately
the public was outraged when the English edition of the work was published with its illustrations and Wilde himself was taken aback when he laid eyes upon Beardsley’s completed drawings. Not only did he find their style inappropriate, but the illustrations had caused such public controversy with their fascinating, grotesque appeal that Wilde was concerned they would overshadow his work and “reduce the text to the role of ‘illustrating Aubrey’s illustrations’” (source).