|Charles Shannon, 'The Bath of Venus' (1998-1904)|
Shannon's paintings are both on loan from the Tate Britain. One is 'The Bath of Venus' (No. 35 in the catalogue), the other one is 'Les Marmitons' (No. 36). The presence of a circular mirror in these paintings is quite different. In the first one, as the catalogue note explains, 'the circular mirror reflects the backs of the attendants and echoes the reflections seen in the water, basin and ewer'.
|Charles Shannon, 'Les Marmitons' (1897)|
This is echoed in the poses of the two girls, their bodies forming two demi-circles. This yin-yang-like arrangement stresses their intimacy, and questions their sexuality.
Ricketts and Shannon were under the spell of the Pre-Raphaelite painter Dante Gabriel Rossetti (Ricketts more than Shannon), whose house was full of circular mirrors. However, the meaning of Shannon's mirror is different from the connotations it had in Rossetti's work, and far removed from the significance of the mirror in Van Eyck's original painting.
The exhibition has its flaws - it was not well visited while we were there - but it is worth seeing the Van Eyck, and an opportunity to study the Shannon paintings. Photography is not allowed, but why? Images abound on the Internet.