The Aestthetic Movement it is a literary and artistic European movement in the second half of the 19th century.
The main exponents of Aestheticism were initially the French writers and poets, such as Gautier, Baudelaire, Flaubert, Mallarmè and Huysmans. The catchphrase of the aesthetic movement was Art for Arts Sake”. Art is viewed as the supreme human achievement and it should not be subdued to moral, political, didactic or pratical purposes.
Its exclusive pur pose i sto exist for the sake of its own beauty and it can judged only by aesthetic criteria.
In English literature the main figure who spoke about the contraposition between appearance and reality” was Oscar Wilde.
He was born in Dublin in 1856.
He received a great education in a Protestant School, later he went to Trinity College and to Oxford University where he lived as a dandy that was the image of an eccentric man who gave very importance to aspect and to the way in which a man appeared and for this reason he was both criticized and admired in society.
This figure was based on his belief that in life, as in art, the artists duty was to cultivate beauty and give aesthetic pleasure.
He believed that only art as cult of beauty could preserve man from death of the soul. He said that the artists were alien in a materialistic world.
He said that he wrote only to please himself and not to communicate his theories.
He was very witty and he used his witty to shock London aristocracy. He was imprisoned for homosexuality and this experience changes his life and his art,
He died in Paris.
The Picture of Dorian Gray
In Oscar Wildes novel, handsome young Dorian Gray sees his portrait and
becomes morbidly aware of his own beauty.
This leads him to wish he remained always young and good looking.
In return, he would give everything and the portrait should grow old instead.
Unexpectedly, his wish comes true.
As time passes, handsome Dorian commits all kinds of cruelties and crimes while his picture, hidden in the remotest part oh his house.
In the end, tired of his cruel, eternal beauty, Dorian stabs his portrait.
At the moment of death he becomes an ugly old man and the portrait resumes its splendour.
The myth of Sibyl permeates” The picture of Dorian Gray”.
According to this myth, Sibyl was an beautiful girl, so happy with her own beauty that she wished to live for ever in the hope to keep her beauty as well.
But she forgot to state this in her wish and as she grew old, she gradually lost her beauty and turned into an ugly old woman foretelling and bargaining skills.
The myth cannot have been ignored by O.Wilde in also supported by the fact that one of the characters in the novel is named Sibyl Vane”