Caricature of Oscar Wilde as Narcissus


In the mid-1890s, Oscar Wilde (1854–1900) was enjoying fame as a playwright and wit, and enjoying notoriety for his private life (a life that was shortly to made more public with his conviction for homosexuality).

This cartoon, by the American Thomas Nast (1840–1902), was presumably inspired by the publication of six prose poems by Wilde in the magazine The Fortnightly Review of July 1894. One of them, The Disciples, is told from the point of view of the pool in which the Greek character Narcissus gazes lovingly at his own reflection.

Wilde is shown as Narcissus, looking on adoringly at himself. He wears an extravagant flower labelled ‘Notoriety’, and the Narcissus story is quoted on the right. In another classical reference, the voice of Echo from the hills states ‘He is an aesthetic sham’. The name he is called in the caption (‘Mr O’Wilde’) is a dig at his Irish origins.

Full title:
Caricature of Oscar Wilde as Narcissus from a collection of portraits etc.
Print / Image
Thomas Nast
Usage terms
Public Domain
Held by
British Library
Add MS 81784

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