Wednesday, July 17, 2019

416. Ricketts, Shannon, Junius & Ross

About ten years ago, the antiquarian bookseller John Hart described a copy of Franciscus Junius' The Painting of the Ancient, in Three Bookes: Declaring by Historicall Observations and Examples, the Beginning, Progresse, and Consummation of that Most Noble Art. And how those Ancient Artificers attained to their still so much admired Excellencie, a book that was issued in its first English translation (from the Latin) by Richard Hodgkinsonne in London in 1638.

Franciscus Junius, The Painting of the Ancients (1638)
[Another copy]
The Latin edition - De Pictura Veterum - had been printed the year before, in 1637, for Junius's patron, Thomas Howard, the Earl of Arundel.

An ordinary copy of this book would fetch around £300, but this copy was priced at £1200. What was so special? This was an association copy presented by Charles Ricketts and Charles Shannon to Robert Ross in September 1911. Tipped in is a photograph of Ricketts in Athens.

This particular copy came back on the market on 6 June of this year, when it was auctioned by Forum Auctions in London. The hammer price was a mere £300. The new owner recently contacted me and sent me some images of the work.

The online description of John Hart stated that the copy was in poor condition, 'being badly worn on the corners, with the inner hinges strengthened and the text browned and spotted'. Books from Ricketts's library are usually in such a state, a common fate for books that an artist may use in his studio. The worn state of this book belongs to its artistic history. A plus point is that the artist has made some handwritten notes in it.

Dedication in Junius, The Painting of the Ancients (1638)
The dedication is written by Ricketts on behalf of Shannon and himself: 

To R. Ross from his friends C Ricketts and
                                                   C Shannon
                                      November 5

Lacking now is the letter which was included by Ricketts:

Here is a copy of The Painting of the Ancients I spoke to you about. We find it a delightful book to dip into at odd moments. Personally I like it better than several classics but, a book is like a friend, one never knows if another will like him also.


Read the last page at the sentence beginning "Protogenes his example may teach us" it may move you to read elsewhere. The first book is dull. It is dedicated to the Countess of Arundell [CR's spelling] to whom Tizianello dedicated his life of Titian. The author sent a copy to Rubens who evidently rather disliked it. There are admonitions against "florid and a kind of lax and ornate use of the pencil" practised by certain moderns ha! ha!

Rubens painted a portrait of the Earl of Arundel.

Peter Paul Rubens, Portrait of Thomas Howard, 21st Earl of Arundel
(c. 1629-1630)
[Collection: National  Gallery, London]
The letter is no longer with the book, but the photograph is. It shows Charles Ricketts in Athens. He is seated in the Theatre of Dionysos next to the seat of the high priest. (See my 2011 blog about this photograph: 67. Ricketts in the Front Row). 

Ricketts in Athens, 1911
The photograph bears another handwritten dedication:

Athens 1911 C. Ricketts. The seat of Sophocles. The Throne of Kallimachos To R.R. from C.R.

The current owner is Edward Chaney, partly of Dutch descent (his mother being Maaike de Gruyter). Chaney is an expert on the evolution of the Grand Tour, the history of collecting, and other subjects.

He wrote to me that he owns a Shannon lithograph, and is an admirer of Ricketts, Shannon, and Ross.

I was, however, drawn the book itself (Junius's Painting of the Ancients) having published quite a bit on the dedicatee, the remarkable Countess of Arundel and her husband 'the Collector Earl', Junius's principal patron. It is a fascinating book and most interesting that Ricketts should have given it to Ross. The photograph of Ricketts sitting in the theatre in Athens is yet another bonus... All this for a three hundred squids plus commission (from Forum Auctions) almost cheered me up...

The joy of collecting!