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It is often difficult to read Wilde’s paintings. Yet hidden figurative forms can sometimes be found within the apparent chaos of swirling paint. Here, a reclining woman is visible in the lower half of the picture. Next to her is a vase of flowers and a bird; in the background there is a landscape.

In mythology Fata Morgana is an enchantress. The name is also given to a mirage of a woman sometimes seen in the Straits of Messina. Why Wilde invoked this myth remains unknown, but it may refer to a fantasy of a woman appearing in a landscape.

September 2004