Item No: #308200 [Illustrated Letter, November 12, 1882]. Oscar Wilde, Henry Joseph Breuer.
[Illustrated Letter, November 12, 1882]
[Illustrated Letter, November 12, 1882]
[Illustrated Letter, November 12, 1882]

Oscar Wilde Illustration in an 1882 Letter

[Illustrated Letter, November 12, 1882]

Notes: A charming three-page letter from the artist Henry Joseph Breuer (1860–1932) to his friend Jerome Bird Howard mentioning his friendship with Oscar Wilde, with a small drawing of the Irish writer in the margin.

In 1882, Breuer, an artist at the Rookwood Pottery Studio, likely met Oscar Wilde on one of Wilde's trips to Cincinnati* and they apparently became friendly. Later that year, Breuer moved to New York where he worked as a lithographer and as an artist for an interior design firm while trying to make a go as a professional artist. In this letter he writes,

"I believe I told you that I meet Oscar Wilde quite often now. Yes! he told me how d— mad he was about the last article in the Century magazine and a good deal more, I may tell you sometime."

Breuer's mention of the Century magazine is probably a reference to Helen Gray Cone's November 1882 "Narcissus in Camden," a parody poem about the meeting of Wilde and Walt Whitman.

The rest of the letter describes Breuer's father's visit to New York and the fine lunch he brought with him and offers chatty comments about mutual friends and family in Cincinnati. Breuer decorated the margins of the letter with small vignettes in ink and watercolor. The end of the letter is signed "Joe."

After a few years in New York, Breuer went to California where he finally found success as an artist. He married one of his students, Fannie Palmer, joined the Bohemian Club, and became one of Adolphus Busch's favorite painters. A few months after he died, in 1932, a memorial exhibition of his work was mounted at the Palace of the Legion of Honor, in San Francisco.

Provenance: 1) Jerome B. Howard, by descent to the estate of the last family owner; 2) Sparks Auction Service, Edina, Missouri (August 2020 estate sale); 3) Heartland Artifact Auction.

Three sheets; 8 by 10 inches; in ink and watercolor. With two holes punched at the top and tied with a ribbon, probably a replacement.

* "Wilde's trips to Cincinnati" See "When Oscar Wilde Visited Cincinnati..." in Cincinnati Magazine online, June 21, 2016.

Edition + Condition: Old folds for mailing; three stains on the verso (back) of the last page, not affecting the text or illustrations, else very good.

Publication: New York: 1882.

Item No: #308200


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