Wednesday, February 5, 2014

132. A Lithograph for The Burlington Magazine

Every now and then, The Burlington Magazine reproduced works of art of which the originals were for sale to the subscribers. In December 1906 Charles Shannon contributed an original lithograph, called 'The Morning Visit'.

Charles Shannon, 'The Morning Visit' (Lithograph, 1906)
The Lithographs of Charles Shannon, a catalogue compiled by Paul Delaney in 1978, lists this lithograph, which was issued separately, as number 68, and states that for the annual subscribers of The Burlington Magazine at least 110 copies were printed. These were issued in a blue paper wrapper. A copy in a private collection has the number 292, and we may assume that at least 300 copies were printed.

Colophon for 'The Morning Visit' by Charles Shannon (Lithograph, 1906)
The reproduction in The Burlington Magazine (December 1906, p. [187]) was preceded by an introduction of C.J.H., Charles Holmes.

It is a commonplace of current criticism to speak of Mr. Shannon's painting as an echo of that of others, Whistler, Watts and Titian being the masters who perhaps are most generally assumed to be his artistic originals. [...] As times passes, however, the charges of imitation grow fainter, there is less and less inclination to label a painting by Shannon with another name than his, and the popular feeling about him is becoming the same as that which has long been held by those who have known his lithographs.
For a lithograph, like a drawing, is a more direct utterance of a man's self than anything which can be expressed in the more complicated and, even in the most skilful hands, more accidental medium of oil painting. Hence in his series of lithographs, which must now be about seventy in number, Mr. Shannon's personality shows more clearly, perhaps than in any other portion of his work, and this Morning Visit might almost be regarded as its embodiment. We see there an artist to whom instinct for design, for the airy spacing of the gestures of women and children, is the one thing of importance, to whom the inexpressive details and violent surprises of modern realism seem, if not precisely vulgar, at least alien to the temper in which great art is conceived. [...]
In Mr. Shannon's lithographs this fluent line is modified by the modern feeling for vibrant light; a feeling apparently not quite compatible with perfect use of the oil medium. Here then we have to recognise how marvellously belanced is this art which comprises such gracious amplitude of mass[,] such vital suppleness of contour, and such a charm of silvery atmosphere within its modest scope.

The lithograph depicts a female figure, with long unmade hair, lying on a bed, reaching for her baby that is held firmly by a nurse. Mother and child are naked, (the nurse is dressed), and a symbolism of purity seems intended. There is a curtain in the background.