This is a lavishly illustrated volume that offers a new interpretation of the significance of the portrait image during the final decades of the nineteenth century in Britain, using materials drawn from the Mark Samuels Lasner Collection at the University of Delaware. This study highlights the connections between the images of writers' and artists' faces that circulated through the British periodical press, through exhibition spaces in London, and through book publishing, and such late-Victorian cultural obsessions as defining "genius," masculinity, femininity, and class status. It focuses in particular on the figure of Oscar Wilde as the writer who best exploited the new market for portraits in advancing his own career, but moves beyond him to look at the broader topic of how and why writers' and artists' faces were idealized, caricatured, and also studied by the general public. It examines, too, the relationship between the circulation of portraits and notions of modernity created through advertising, public relations, and commodification. Margaret D. Stetz is the Mae and Robert Carter Professor of Women's Studies and Professor of Humanities at the University of Delaware.
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