Wednesday, July 11, 2018

363. Exported and Destroyed Paintings by Ricketts and Shannon

The Spring 2018 issue of The British Art Journal contains an article by Libby Horner about the art collection of Kojiro Matsukata (1865-1950), a dockyard company president from Japan who had studied law in the USA. He bought paintings at amazing prices and in huge quantities, not caring for style or subject, as long as the works could expand the understanding of Western society by Japanese artists. Years after his death in 1950 a National Museum of Western Art was opened in Tokyo. (In the list of artists represented in this museum, the names of Ricketts and Shannon are absent.)

Kojiro Matsukata (source: Wikimedia Commons)
In October 1939, a devastating fire in a London depository destroyed almost 1,000 art works from Matsukata's collection. The part of his collection that had been brought to Japan suffered heavily from the Allied bombing during World War II. Other parts of his collection were kept in France, and these survivors are now in Tokyo. 

Among the works he bought were paintings by Ricketts and Shannon. In her article Libby Horner mentions that one oil painting by Ricketts, 'Legend of the Wise and Foolish Virgins',  was brought to Japan on the S.S. Agusta Maru, in addition to two oil paintings by Shannon: 'Wood Nymph' and 'Three Sisters'. 

Among the works that were certainly burned in the depository fire in London in 1939 were Charles Shannon's painting 'The Summer Sea', that had been exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1919, and was acquired for £500. It was listed as No. 79 in an inventory of works that were stored at the premises. The list was found among the Arthur Tooth and Sons papers in the Tate Archive (the gallery had been in business from 1842 to the 1970s). 

Charles Shannon, 'Linen Bleachers' (lithograph, 1894)
The now lost collection also included, as Libby reports, 'The Convalescent' (No. 80, £200), 'Winter' (No. 81, £400), and 'Linen Bleachers' (No. 82, £20). The last one probably wasn't a painting, but a lithograph published in 1894.

Charles Shannon, 'The Three Sisters' (lithograph, 1894)
Shannon used to depict subjects multiple times in diverse media. The painting 'The Three Sisters' is lost, but a lithograph with a similar scene has survived. Also dated 1894.