Wednesday, December 7, 2011

20. A house in Geneva

A conference on book exhibitions in Lausanne brought me to Geneva, where Charles Ricketts was born on 2 October 1866. I had a few hours before the departure of the Amsterdam flight, which gave me ample time to walk to the house where Ricketts was born, 57, rue du Rhône.
Entrance of 57, rue du Rhône, Geneva
According to the date in a cartouche above the door, the building was erected in 1856, only ten years before Ricketts was born, and the young family lived in a relatively new apartment on one of the six floors, located only one block from the Promenade du Lac and the Jardin anglais.
Cartouche above the door of 57, rue du Rhône
To the left and right of the entrance on the ground floor are now fashion shops: Moncler, New Mouton and a 'spécialiste du costume'.
57, rue du Rhône, Geneva
Ricketts's father had been a First Lieutenant on HMS London, but had been invalided out of the service and retired on half pay, when he decided, with the help of an allowance of Ricketts's grandfather, to study painting in Geneva. His father specialized in seascapes and Ricketts would later declare that his father and he 'liked totally different things in the National Gallery'.* The Ricketts family did not spend much time in Geneva, as they moved to London in 1868, when Ricketts was barely a year old.

[* See Paul Delaney, Charles Ricketts, 1990, p. 5-12].