The memorial of the famous 19th century Irish writer and poet, Oscar Wilde, lies in a cemetery in Paris.
Chiseled out of a 20-tonne block of stone, the tomb features a winged figure resembling the Sphinx on a forward flight with vertically outstretched wings, and is supposed to be based on Wilde’s poem The Sphinx and inspired by the British Museum’s Assyrian figures.
For years, female fans have visited the huge memorial in Paris’s largest cemetery Pére Lachaise to pay homage to the Irish playwright and left their mark in red lipstick.
Over thousands of lipstick kisses and graffiti messages cover the bottom half of the tomb.
The practice started in the late 1990s, when somebody decided to leave a lipstick kiss on the tomb.
Since then lipstick kisses and hearts have been joined by a rash of red graffiti containing expressions of love, such as: “Wilde child we remember you”, “Keep looking at the stars” and “Real beauty ends where intellect begins”.
Kissing Oscar’s tomb on the Paris tourist circuit has become a cult pastime.
A Valentine’s gift to top all Valentine’s gifts – the Petit Livre d’Amour (Little Book of Love) was an ornate bespoke book given by the 16th-century Lyon-born poet Pierre Salas to his then lover and future wife Marguerite Bullioud.
It measures just 5 by 3.7 inches, hand-written by Salas with gold ink and beautifully illuminated by an artist identified as the “Master of the Chronique scandaleuseas”.
The work begins with a few pages of prose describing the relationship between the author and the woman he loves before then presenting the rest of the book, 12 “iconologues”, a combination of prose and poetry on the left-hand page – including the initials M, for Marguerite and P, for Pierre, scattered about in various forms – and on the right-hand page a corresponding picture.
Five of these relate to love, the others to more moral topics, but all turning away from a sickly-sweet tone, instead portraying a more realistic picture of love.