Wednesday, January 31, 2018

340. Collections Online: The MET

In the collection of the Metropolitan Museum, The Met, in New York, one can find a portrait of the Dutch art dealer Elbert Jan van Wisselingh (1848-1912) by Charles Shannon. I don't think it has ever been on show in The MET. (See my earlier blog on Shannon's portraits of Van Wisselingh: 207 Charles Shannon's Portraits of E.J. van Wisselingh).

Charles Shannon, portrait of E.J. van Wisselingh (1899)
Van Wisselingh took over his father's business in 1881. Under his leadership modern French paintings were sold in the Netherlands, and the company expanded into an internationally regarded firm. A London shop was established in 1892 (The Dutch Gallery), and Ricketts and Shannon became friends of Van Wisselingh, who ensured some early sales of their work outside Britain.

The portrait is a drawing in black, white and red chalk on pink paper, signed 'C.H.S. 99'. It was bequeathed to The Met in 2005 by William Slattery Lieberman (1923-2005). Lieberman's collection of documents relating to the modernist ballet 'Parade' by Jean Cocteau and Eric Satie comprised the more important part of his donation. Lieberman was a long-time curator at MOMA before he moved to The Met where he became chairman of the Twentieth Century Art Department.

One wonders how he got hold of this particular Shannon drawing that has been digitized by the museum and published on its website alongside some other works by Ricketts and Shannon (mostly book illustrations).