Wednesday, August 12, 2015

211. A Summer Miscellany: Don Juan

During the Summer - the holiday season for some (not me) - I will show a few works by Ricketts and Shannon that could be in a museum's gallery, but usually are kept in storage. Today, the first of a sunny series, Charles Ricketts's painting of Don Juan.

Charles Ricketts, 'Don Juan', c. 1911 (Tate Gallery, London)
The painting, oil on canvas, inscribed below right 'CR', measures almost a square metre (1162 x 959 mm; frame: 1515 x 1323 mm) and was presented to the Tate Gallery in London by Sir Otto Beit (who bought it from the artist, for this purpose) in 1917. It is one of series of paintings Ricketts undertook on the subject of Mozart's Don Juan. He could also refer to his friend Bernard Shaw’s play Don Juan in Hell and Lord Byron's poem on the theme. Once again, we see that the Vale Press did not publish all authors or works that Ricketts was fond of. There are Shelley and Keats editions, but the name of Byron lacks conspicuously from the VP publisher's list.

In Ricketts's Self-Portrait, a letter by Ricketts to Muriel Lee Matthews of 18 May 1918 is published. At the time the painting was on show at Grosvenor Gallery and called 'The Death of Don Giovanni'. Ricketts wrote that the curtain 'represents the rush of the wood instruments in the Overture' of Mozart's opera.

In Beyond the Threshold Ricketts relates a story about Don Juan, as told by Oscar Wilde, supposedly.

The painting of Don Juan is not on display at the Tate Gallery, but that should not keep you from visiting the museum.