"This volume uses materials drawn from the Mark Samuels Lasner Collection at the University of Delaware to offer a new interpretation of the significance and prevalence of the portrait image during the final decades of the nineteenth century in Britain. It focuses on how and why representations of writers' and artists' faces circulated through the periodical press, through exhibition spaces in London, and through book publishing, while it looks at the ways in which audiences learned to "read" these faces for information about masculinity, femininity, class status, and especially for an understanding of the concept of "genius." Margaret D. Stetz's work highlights throughout the importance of Oscar Wilde as the writer who best exploited the new market for portraits in advancing his own career, but moves beyond him to consider the broader topic of writers' and artists' faces as objects of idealization, caricature, and also of close study by the general public. It examines, too, the portrait as a marker both of celebrity and of modernity, in an age that ushered in the present by defining itself through advertising, public relations, and commodification."--BOOK JACKET.