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Oscar Wilde's face was simultaneously maligned and celebrated by the “sciences” of physiognomy in the nineteenth century and, after the trials of 1895, in depictions that link Wilde to a pathologically expressive personality type. Personality and modern vision converge in the subject of Wilde's face, and their relation is illuminated by recent debates about affects and the emotions as well as by the theories of visual modernity advanced by Charles Baudelaire, Max Beerbohm, and E. H. Gombrich and Ernst Kris . Whereas early caricatures of Wilde invest the image with a readable psychology or interior, later depictions maintain a fiction of readability linked to a purely physiological notion of abnormal personality.
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