Wednesday, April 8, 2020

454. Charles Shannon's Renaissance

In 1889, Charles Shannon prepared a drawing for reproduction in a new art periodical, The Art Review. It was published in the first issue that, according to the prospectus, appeared on 4 January. The magazine aimed at recording the current tendencies in art, music, and literature, "while its illustrations will form a special feature". That is what almost every magazine said in this period in which illustrations became more and more important - more realistic or, on the contrary, more artistic. The cover was designed by Walter Crane.

Charles Shannon, 'Renaissance' (The Art Review, 1890)
The drawing is signed 'CHS' and dated '89'. At the top centre is a cartouche with the title. This is probably the work of the editors of the magazine.

The drawing shows a landscape with a bridge to a town. The scene takes place in the surrounding countryside, with a spring, a stone well surrounded by columns, an old statue without arms at its centre.

On the edge of the well a naked young woman seems to have just climbed out of the well, or is taking a bath. She is holding a hand mirror in her left hand. The stone woman figure is a fountain; water flows from one of her breasts.

A branch of a flowering tree has grown through the temple-like edifice. In the foreground on the right, branches of a coniferous tree are visible.

On the right three figures are depicted; one turns away from the scene and seems to want to return to the more wintery town in the background.

Two younger, male figures, naked or half-naked, are gripped by the scene of the naked young woman who seems to be announcing spring.

Charles Shannon, 'Renaissance' [detail] (The Art Review, 1890)
The Art Review, published by Walter Scott in London, was a short-lived art journal of which only seven issues were published between January and July 1890. Among the contributors were Laurence Housman, Arthur Symons, Walter Savage Landor, Edward Carpenter, Baron Corvo, and J.W. Gleeson White. It was intended as the successor to a magazine that had lasted two volumes, The Scottish Art Review (1888-1890). This drawing was Shannon's only contribution to itIn other words, the Renaissance didn't really get going.