Wednesday, March 4, 2020

449. Leonard Baskin's Portrait of Charles Ricketts

In the year 2000 The Gehenna Press published a second series of portraits of book artisans called Icones Librorum Artifices. The etchings were made by Leonard Baskin (1922-2000) in his final year.

Leonard Baskin, 'Charles Ricketts', etching (2000)
The first series - including portraits of Cornelius Ploos van Amstel, Dard Hunter, Aubrey Beardsley, Sarah Prideaux, Daniel Berkely Updike and Charles Condor - was published in 1988. The second series contained portraits of Jessie King, and other artists. The prospectus for this publication contained a portrait of Ricketts and one of Charlotte Guillard. The latter had an oval shape. The one of Ricketts consists of three diamond-shaped etchings and two triangles with text; underneath is the name of Ricketts.

The etchings (one in mirror image) are identical, but one is printed in black and white, one in blue and one in red and yellow. Which portrait served as a basis, I don't know, but Baskin's portrait doesn't resemble any of the photographs of Ricketts. The moustache seems too full, the head hair too voluptuous. The accompanying text is complimentary and says that not Morris, but Ricketts has exerted the cardinal influence on book design in the late Victorian era.