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Oscar Wilde once said Art is the most intense form of individualism that the world has knownBolander 20 A man who truly believed in the importance of art and its significance in and reflections on society Wilde references artists to describe nearly every character in his four-act play An Ideal Husband Nassaar 123 Wilde uses an artists stereotypical model to visually emphasize the values which are paramount to his characters and society as seen through Mrs Marchmont Lady Basildon Lord Caversham and Sir Robert Chiltern Eltis 132 However Wilde relates some of his characters to a more subtle type of artistry or artist as in the cases with Miss Mabel Chiltern Mrs Cheveley and Lord Goring Wilde describes the first characters introduced to the audience as very elegant and dainty women Watteau would have loved to paint Mrs Marchmont and Lady Basildon Wilde 11 Antoine Watteau typically painted women of high fragility and exquisite beauty The models Watteau painted dress for the part theyavoid everything gross and uncultivated displaying their seductions with the greatest delicacy and charm Craven 173 Mrs Marchmont and Lady Basildon set the basis for the typical high-class English woman for the rest of the play Through these women Wilde presents a theme of beauty and elegance which does not accompany intelligence LADY BASILDON Ah I hate being educated MRS MARCHMONT So do I It puts one almost on a level with the commercial classes doesnt it But dear Gertrude Chiltern is always telling me that I should have some serious purpose in life So I come here to try to find one LADY BASILDON I dont see anybody here tonight whom one could possibly call a serious purpose Wilde 18-15 Although Mrs Marchmont and Lady Basildon possess astounding beauty they lack a third dimension which leaves them incomplete Watteau painted pictures full of the love he longed for that he never found in real life Sloane
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