Wednesday, May 13, 2020

459. Rediscovered Interviews (3)

On the eve of the appearance of the first issue of the magazine The Pageant, the art editor gave an interview. Charles Shannon was interviewed by an editor of The Sketch, and his commentary was published in The Sketch of 30 October 1895.

The Sketch, 30 October 1895
The magazine was well acquainted with the members of the Vale coterie and had published articles on Charles Shannon (who was seen as the leader), Charles Ricketts, Reginald Savage and Lucien Pissarro. Those articles, with pictures of their art, appeared between January and April 1895 as an early recognition of their talents, and were signed by "Theocritus". Now the artist had an interview with "a Sketch representative".

Apparently artists and magazine had kept in touch and so that same year the first interview we know of with Charles Shannon appeared.

Heralding "The Pageant."

"Take up and read" is the motto of Messrs. H. Henry and Co., which legend, in the case of their forthcoming annual, "The Pageant," might well run, "Take up and admire," for even if the book contained no literature, it would still be very precious. The other day (writes a Sketch representative) I was privileged to take a private view of the illustrations, which will make “The Pageant” one of the most noteworthy books of the year. Under the kind direction of Mr. C. Hazlewood Shannon, the art editor, I examined the art contributions and learned something of the design of the volume, which will be enriched by reproductions of the works of Masters, old and young, and middle-aged.

"First," said the art editor, "I may show you a peculiarly exquisite reproduction of Mr. Charles Ricketts'[s] 'Œdipus,' which will appear only in the édition de luxe. To secure this perfection the Swan Electric Engraving Company have spent themselves making, on their own initiative, copy after copy until they attained this wonderful result."

Charles Ricketts, 'Œdipus and the Sphinx',
drawing, 1891
(Tullie House Museum & Gallery, Carlisle)
From that we went through the illustrations seriatim, and Mr. Shannon, at the same time, gave some account of the literature that is to accompany the pictures. There will be two examples from Rossetti, one a most elaborate pen-and-ink drawing, entitled "Mary Magdalene at the House of Simon the Pharisee," which gains interest from the fact that George Meredith sat for the head of Christ. The other Rossetti is the "Monna Rosa," for which M. Paul Verlaine has written a poem. Mr. Swinburne will also contribute a poem, "A Roundel of Rabelais," which will be accompanied by the poet’s portrait, printed in red, after the original of Mr. Will Rothenstein. Mr. Swinburne sat specially for this drawing, the first time he has given anyone a sitting for twenty years. "Perseus and Medusa" is from an unpublished picture in tempera by Sir E. Burne-Jones, whose "Sea Nymph" will also be reproduced. Sir John Millais' "Love" and his "Sir Isumbras of the Ford," Mr. G.F. Watts's "Ariadne," his "Paolo and Francesca," Mr. Whistler's "Symphony in White," No. III, and "The Doctor," an original lithograph of the artist's brother, make up the tale of works by older living artists. These are followed by a reproduction of the recently discovered Botticelli, "Pallas and the Centaur," for which Mr. T. Sturge Moore has written a poem. Mr. Reginald Savage contributes "The Albatross" and an illustration to "Sidonia the Sorceress," which will have, for literary partner, an essay by Professor York Powell on Wilhelm Meinhold. Mr. Charles Conder gives "L'Oiseau Bleu" (a composition with some flavour of Rowlandson), from a water-colour drawing executed on silk. "Death and the Bather" is from a powerful and weird pen-and-ink drawing by Lawrence [=Laurence] Housman. Mr. Shannon's own characteristic work is shown in the "White Watch," a composition quite as mystically poetical as his "Romantic Landscape," which was figured in The Sketch some time ago, when the pre-Raphaelites and their works were discussed. The latter picture has also a place in "The Pageant."

Charles Ricketts, decorative design for the binding of The Pageant (1896)
Besides the literary contributions incidentally mentioned, are a story by W.B. Yeats, a poem and story by John Gray, a play and poem by Maeterlinck, a poem by Theodore Watts, and a play by Michael Field. Dr. Garnett contributes an essay, and there is an interesting translation from the Low Dutch, "The Story of a Nun," which is claimed to be a more beautiful version of the Byzantine theme treated by Mr. John Davidson. Mr. Gleeson White is literary editor, and writes on the "Work of Charles Ricketts." Nor are these all, but enough have been mentioned to prove that "The Pageant" is no "vain show."

To descend to drier details. The book will contain twenty full-page illustrations, and seventeen in the text. The arrangement of the type will be unique. The cover is after a design by Mr. Ricketts. The ordinary edition will cost six shillings. The large-paper edition (limited to one hundred and fifty impressions) will be sold at one guinea.

"I have been allowed a free hand," said Mr. Shannon, "and I have used it. You notice the predominant pre-Raphaelite spirit – I was resolved not to bate one jot of my ideal, and I have not done so."
"I am sure, Mr. Shannon, there must be a public ready to acknowledge your labours?"
"At any rate," he answered cheerily, "I am very hopeful."