An Ideal Husband
by Oscar Wilde
"Triumph of Love" Tapestry
Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory
The Triumph of Love tapestry is from a design by Boucher – perhaps from his "Visit of Venus to Vulcan" (1754), or "Triumph of Venus" (1740). In both, the goddess of love is a triumphant figure – either pointing to the conquered heart of Vulcan or socializing in the ocean with a flock of naked maidens, dudes, and cherubs. The tapestry is highlighted at the end of Act 1, when Sir Robert's just received the directive from Lady Chiltern to reject Mrs. Cheveley's indecent proposal. At this moment in the play, love may triumph, but it's at the expense of all else.
The image appears again in Act 2, as Mabel heads off to a rehearsal of "Triumph of…something" tableaux, just an elaborate excuse for her two suitors, Lord Goring and Tommy Trafford, to vie for her attention.