Wednesday, September 4, 2019

423. Charles Shannon's Lithographs for The Savoy (2)

Charles Shannon contributed lithographs to the first three issues of The Savoy, then no more. His contributions were always prominently placed in the front, only preceded by the designs of Aubrey Beardsley. In the first issue, their contributions are followed by those of Charles Conder, Joseph Pennell, Louis Oury, William Rothenstein, F. Sandys, James McNeill Whistler, Max Beerbohm, and Jacques L. Blanche. In short, the editors had a lot to choose from, but both in this first and later issues Shannon kept his leading position.

The Savoy, 'Art Contents' (No. 2) and cover (No. 3) (both 1896)
Although these four lithographs were published in 1896 (between January and July), they all date from 1895. There is also a small edition printed by the artist himself. Of the last two lithographs, 'The Dive' and 'Stone Bath', 25 proofs are printed on two types of paper. The Savoy printed three lithographs in grey, and one in green. 

Charles Shannon, 'The Dive' (The Savoy, No. 2, April 1896)
The second number of The Savoy contained two of Shannon's lithographs (see last week's blog), the second of which was called 'The Dive', depicting (quoting Ricketts's description): 'A girl in the act of plunging into the water; her companion peeps through a doorway.' The British Museum owns one of the signed copies (not the transfer-lithograph), and it is described as follows: 'Nude girl diving into a stone pool; another female figure watching through doorway at left'.

Charles Shannon, 'The Dive', proof, signed  (British Museum)
The third number of The Savoy was published in July 1896 and contained Shannon's lithograph 'The Stone Bath', depicting 'Two nude women and a child in a bath-house; one standing and resting her head on a ledge; the other sitting and leaning forward supporting the child in the water' (The British Museum owns one of the proofs). Ricketts added that the girl on the left leans on 'a parapet'.

Charles Shannon, 'The Stone Bath' (The Savoy, No. 3, July 1896)
Rainforth Armitage Walker (1886-1960), under his pseudonym Georges Derry, published an essay on Shannon's lithographs ('The Lithographs of Charles Hazelwood Shannon', in: The Print-Collector’s Quarterly; December, 1914, p. 392-420) in which he praises these two works as part of a series of Stone-Bath lithographs:

Each one is marked by some particular quality of pose or grouping, charming either from its originality or its gracefulness. For instance, in The Stone Bath [...], the delicately drawn thigh and right leg is beautifully contrasted with the angle of the stone against which the figure leans, and the whole body is given a vitality - almost a color - from the contrast of living, muscular flesh with hard, smooth stone. Again in The Dive [...] the sense of quick motion is given by the wisp of hair which flies up, from the sudden plunging forward of the figure.

From Ricketts's catalogue we know that the order of publication in The Savoy was somewhat different from the order of production of the four lithographs:
1. Salt Water (The Savoy, 2);
2. The Letter (The Savoy, 1);
3. The Stone Bath (The Savoy, 3);
4. The Dive (The Savoy, 2).

The format of both prints - the proof and the transfer lithograph - are the same, but the more attractive, less smooth paper makes the proofs look more subtle.