The aesthetic movement was more than William Morris wallpaper – it turned values upside down.
In spring sunlight, art students rush through the grand courtyard of the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris. Artists such as Matisse studied here. But I am looking for a British and Irish cultural hero. On the Rue des Beaux Arts, a narrow Left Bank street next to the famous art academy, an expensive hotel (simply called L’Hôtel) is getting ready for the lunch hour. Only if you know this was once the run-down Hotel d’Alsace where Oscar Wilde died in 1900, disgraced, despised, penniless, his health broken by Reading jail, will you stop and notice the plaque that commemorates him.
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