Wednesday, May 27, 2020

461. Hazelwood or Haslewood?

What was Charles Shannon's name? It seems an odd and nonsensical question, but there's grounds for asking it, since reference works contain different spellings of his middle name.

The Library of Congress name authority file prefers Charles Haslewood Shannon, listing the alternative names C.H. Shannon and Charles Hazelwood Shannon. 

Shannon's father called him Charles Haslewood, and he must have been right...

The name is thus written in the Quarrington Parish Records - Baptisms (1862-1863). We can assume the Church official made no mistake at the time. After all, it's much more unusual than Hazelwood. 


Quarrinton Parish Records (on Lincs to the Past)
There shouldn't be any confusion. 

Shannon himself signed his work with the names C.H. Shannon or Charles Shannon. However, when his middle name was added, it is 'Hazelwood'. Did he prefer that spelling?

This middle name appears, for example, on an invitation to an exhibition of drawings and lithographs at The Dutch Gallery in London in May 1894. The card states that 'Mr. Will Rothenstein' and 'Mr. Charles Hazelwood Shannon' have the pleasure of inviting the reader to the private view.


Invitation, The Dutch Gallery (1894)
Another instance is the title page of the first volume of The Pageant which appeared at the end of 1895.


The Pageant for 1896 (published 1895): title page
In the newspapers Shannon's name was spelled as Hazelwood, except at the time of his death, when the will was publicised. Then, uniquely, the name Haslewood re-appeared.

In short, Charles Shannon was officially called Charles Haslewood Shannon, but as an artist he used the name Charles Hazelwood Shannon. 

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

460. Not Designed by Charles H. Shannon: J.O. Hobbes's Novel

Every now and then antiquarian books are offered whose design is wrongly attributed to Ricketts or Shannon, more often to the former than to the latter, by the way. Recently I saw an antiquarian bookseller ascribe the design of a novel by John Oliver Hobbes to Shannon: The Gods, Some Mortals, & Lord Wickenham (1895).


John Oliver Hobbes,
The Gods, Some Mortals, & Lord Wickenham (1895)
What pointed towards Shannon? First, the publisher and the year - Henry & Co and 1895: exactly the publisher and the year of publication of The Pageant, for which Shannon was appointed art editor.

Secondly, there is a monogram on the title page that might mean 'C.H.S'.


John Oliver Hobbes,
The Gods, Some Mortals, & Lord Wickenham (1895): second title page
A Canadian dealer decided that this must be Shannon's monogram; his description of the book on his website (see Vialibri.com) stated: 'Binding design, orange half-title, and title page by Charles Shannon, I believe.'


John Oliver Hobbes,
The Gods, Some Mortals, & Lord Wickenham (1895): second title page (detail)
However, a close-up shows that this is not the case. Probably the monogram reads 'C.H. Sc.', in other words, it is the engraver. (The book was printed by Hazell, Watson & Viney Ltd.) [See postscript below.]

Another bookseller found a handwritten note in a copy of this book stating that it was designed by Walter Spindler: 'A pencil note on the leading endpaper identifies the designer of the book and of the titlepage as the pre-Raphaelite artist Walter Spindler.'

That is correct, and, incidentally, the artist himself left his mark on the drawn title page that precedes the illustrated title page. It bears his monogram 'W.S.'


John Oliver Hobbes,
The Gods, Some Mortals, & Lord Wickenham (1895): first title page

John Oliver Hobbes,
The Gods, Some Mortals, & Lord Wickenham (1895): first title page (detail)
And then there are the publishers of the book themselves who, at the end of Hobbes novel, included a section with advertisements for their publications. This list, A Selection from Messrs. Henry & Co's Announcements, is dated "April 1895" and also mentions this novel. Alas, it does not give any details about the design. We have to look elsewhere. If we turn to the advertisements that are bound in at the back of the first issue of The Pageant (for 1896), we will find a statement about the designer:

With a title-page and binding designed by Walter Spindler.


The Pageant for 1896 (published 1895)
Not that everything is solved with this, because no mention is made of the second illustrated title page - a rather clumsy drawing actually - and we don't know who designed that page.

Walter E. Spindler (1878-1940) was not a pre-Raphaelite artist (as the second antiquarian bookseller claimed); he was born far too late for that. The French-born artist is known for his portraits of Sarah Bernhardt and Alfred Lord Douglas, among others.

John Oliver Hobbes was the pen-name of Pearl Mary Teresa Richards (1867-1906). She was born in Boston (1867), moved to London when young, was raised in London and Paris, wrote novels and drama. She died quite suddenly in London in 1906.

The artist and the author knew each other well, from childhood on, and although it was rumoured that Spindler and Richards were to be engaged, this actually never happened. She dedicated one of her novels to him, and he provided a portrait of her for her book Tales of John Oliver Hobbes (1894).

Postscript
Simon Wilson reminds me that C.H.sc. refers to Carl Hentschel.

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

459. Rediscovered Interviews (3)

On the eve of the appearance of the first issue of the magazine The Pageant, the art editor gave an interview. Charles Shannon was interviewed by an editor of The Sketch, and his commentary was published in The Sketch of 30 October 1895.


The Sketch, 30 October 1895
The magazine was well acquainted with the members of the Vale coterie and had published articles on Charles Shannon (who was seen as the leader), Charles Ricketts, Reginald Savage and Lucien Pissarro. Those articles, with pictures of their art, appeared between January and April 1895 as an early recognition of their talents, and were signed by "Theocritus". Now the artist had an interview with "a Sketch representative".

Apparently artists and magazine had kept in touch and so that same year the first interview we know of with Charles Shannon appeared.


Heralding "The Pageant."


"Take up and read" is the motto of Messrs. H. Henry and Co., which legend, in the case of their forthcoming annual, "The Pageant," might well run, "Take up and admire," for even if the book contained no literature, it would still be very precious. The other day (writes a Sketch representative) I was privileged to take a private view of the illustrations, which will make “The Pageant” one of the most noteworthy books of the year. Under the kind direction of Mr. C. Hazlewood Shannon, the art editor, I examined the art contributions and learned something of the design of the volume, which will be enriched by reproductions of the works of Masters, old and young, and middle-aged.

"First," said the art editor, "I may show you a peculiarly exquisite reproduction of Mr. Charles Ricketts'[s] 'Œdipus,' which will appear only in the édition de luxe. To secure this perfection the Swan Electric Engraving Company have spent themselves making, on their own initiative, copy after copy until they attained this wonderful result."


Charles Ricketts, 'Œdipus and the Sphinx',
drawing, 1891
(Tullie House Museum & Gallery, Carlisle)
From that we went through the illustrations seriatim, and Mr. Shannon, at the same time, gave some account of the literature that is to accompany the pictures. There will be two examples from Rossetti, one a most elaborate pen-and-ink drawing, entitled "Mary Magdalene at the House of Simon the Pharisee," which gains interest from the fact that George Meredith sat for the head of Christ. The other Rossetti is the "Monna Rosa," for which M. Paul Verlaine has written a poem. Mr. Swinburne will also contribute a poem, "A Roundel of Rabelais," which will be accompanied by the poet’s portrait, printed in red, after the original of Mr. Will Rothenstein. Mr. Swinburne sat specially for this drawing, the first time he has given anyone a sitting for twenty years. "Perseus and Medusa" is from an unpublished picture in tempera by Sir E. Burne-Jones, whose "Sea Nymph" will also be reproduced. Sir John Millais' "Love" and his "Sir Isumbras of the Ford," Mr. G.F. Watts's "Ariadne," his "Paolo and Francesca," Mr. Whistler's "Symphony in White," No. III, and "The Doctor," an original lithograph of the artist's brother, make up the tale of works by older living artists. These are followed by a reproduction of the recently discovered Botticelli, "Pallas and the Centaur," for which Mr. T. Sturge Moore has written a poem. Mr. Reginald Savage contributes "The Albatross" and an illustration to "Sidonia the Sorceress," which will have, for literary partner, an essay by Professor York Powell on Wilhelm Meinhold. Mr. Charles Conder gives "L'Oiseau Bleu" (a composition with some flavour of Rowlandson), from a water-colour drawing executed on silk. "Death and the Bather" is from a powerful and weird pen-and-ink drawing by Lawrence [=Laurence] Housman. Mr. Shannon's own characteristic work is shown in the "White Watch," a composition quite as mystically poetical as his "Romantic Landscape," which was figured in The Sketch some time ago, when the pre-Raphaelites and their works were discussed. The latter picture has also a place in "The Pageant."


Charles Ricketts, decorative design for the binding of The Pageant (1896)
Besides the literary contributions incidentally mentioned, are a story by W.B. Yeats, a poem and story by John Gray, a play and poem by Maeterlinck, a poem by Theodore Watts, and a play by Michael Field. Dr. Garnett contributes an essay, and there is an interesting translation from the Low Dutch, "The Story of a Nun," which is claimed to be a more beautiful version of the Byzantine theme treated by Mr. John Davidson. Mr. Gleeson White is literary editor, and writes on the "Work of Charles Ricketts." Nor are these all, but enough have been mentioned to prove that "The Pageant" is no "vain show."

To descend to drier details. The book will contain twenty full-page illustrations, and seventeen in the text. The arrangement of the type will be unique. The cover is after a design by Mr. Ricketts. The ordinary edition will cost six shillings. The large-paper edition (limited to one hundred and fifty impressions) will be sold at one guinea.

"I have been allowed a free hand," said Mr. Shannon, "and I have used it. You notice the predominant pre-Raphaelite spirit – I was resolved not to bate one jot of my ideal, and I have not done so."
"I am sure, Mr. Shannon, there must be a public ready to acknowledge your labours?"
"At any rate," he answered cheerily, "I am very hopeful."

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

458. Rediscovered Interviews (2)

After his first career as a lithographer, Shannon had emerged as a painter, mainly of idyllic scenes and portraits. In 1908 he enjoyed a certain fame, at least enough for the magazine The Tatler to interview him. The society magazine was founded in 1901 by Clement Shorter, and the interview appeared in the issue of 6 May 1908 under the title: 'Beautiful Women I Have Painted. An Interview with Mr. Charles Shannon'. 


Charles Shannon, 'The Marble Torso' (Self-Portrait) (1907)
[whereabouts unknown]
The article was illustrated with six portraits, the first a self-portrait called 'The Marble Torso' (1907), the other paintings were portraits of women: Mrs. Mildmay (and child), Mrs. Patrick Campbell, Mrs. Chaloner Dowdall, Miss Lillah McCarthy, and Miss Kathleen Bruce.

It is not a question and answer account; Shannon's comments have been incorporated into the (unsigned) article.

From his earliest years Mr. Shannon wished to devote himself to art. He followed out his earliest ambitions directly he left school, but after some few years' work reluctantly gave up painting for the simple reason that he did not think he could make a livelihood as an artist. For seven years the young artist tried his hand at engraving and sundry kindred occupations and then once more resolved to follow the profession for which he knew Nature had intended him. He painted "The Wounded Amazon," which gained the gold medal at Munich, and almost at the same time a portrait of a young girl in boy's clothes which at once attracted favourable attention. This latter portrait was purchased some years later by Mr. Clausen for the Melbourne Gallery. It is ten years since Mr. Shannon painted these pictures, and since then his career has been one of continued success.

Mr. Shannon's methods as a portrait-painter are rather different from the generality of modern painters. "I have never been able to understand," said Mr. Shannon, "why a prolonged number of sittings should be regarded as a necessity to the production of a successful portrait. Of course there may be exceptional cases where difficulties arise which will delay the development of the portrait, but as a general rule a dozen sittings at the outside should be sufficient. I never start on the canvas to begin with. I make a study of my sitter first, perhaps several, until I have a general notion of how I am going to treat the picture. Then I think out the design and general colour scheme. When I have quite settled these points in my mind I begin on the canvas."

Mr. Shannon is quite at variance with the modern idea that everything must be sacrificed to obtaining realism. "To my mind," said Mr. Shannon, "realism has been carried too far; a portrait must of course be a good likeness, but it should also be a picture. If you lose sight of the pictorial side of a portrait altogether and think only of producing a commonplace resemblance the artist's work comes perilously close to that of a photographer and the picture has no future. We are all familiar with the phrase, 'a characteristic portrait.' Of course a portrait should be characteristic, but it seems to me bad art to sacrifice all that makes a picture beautiful to obtain unnecessary emphasis."

Mr. Shannon is a very rapid worker. His portrait of Mrs. Granville Barker (Miss Lillah McCarthy), a characteristic example of his work, was done in half-a-dozen sittings, and that of Mrs. Patrick Campbell in three. "Prolonged sittings." said Mr. Shannon, "are, I think, the result of an artist losing freshness of impression and grip. When a man gets into this mood there is no knowing how long he may take to finish a portrait. At every step in its development he will see something to alter or to rearrange, and so the work may drag through fifty, or for that matter 500, sittings or until old age overtakes both artists and sitter."

Mr. Shannon thinks that modern dress in both men and women lends itself quite readily to pictorial treatment in a portrait. "Even in men's clothes," said Mr. Shannon, "there is quite enough beauty to satisfy the artist. Personally I think the present type of evening dress is almost perfect, and has been greatly improved by the tendency of wearing a soft shirt, which has lessened the 'shiny' effect that is always objectionable, like that of a silk hat." The cut of the clothes has the beauty of economy which characterises the building of a yacht.


Charles Shannon, 'Lady with a Cyclamen
(The Honourable Mrs. H. Chaloner Dowdall, 1876-1939)
(1899)
[Walker Art Gallery]
"It is the fate of every artists to see some of his portraits obtain much greater popularity than others, and it does not always follow that what the artists considers to be his best work obtains this popularity. I really cannot arrive at a satisfactory explanation of  the question 'What makes a portrait popular?'" said Mr. Shannon. "A portrait may be greatly admired when exhibited in a studio and fail to attract much attention in an exhibition, and vice versâ. Personally when a portrait pleases a sitter I am satisfied, but that is, of course, a different thing from pleasing the popular taste in an exhibition."

Mr. Shannon's chief recreation is the theatre, and he spends his holidays always in Italy. His hobby, which he shares with his friend, Mr. Charles Ricketts, is collecting pictures and Tanagra statuettes. The two have pursued this hobby for the past ten years with results which it would take many pages of The Tatler to describe at all fully. There are original drawings, ancient and modern, by artists such as Durer, Rembrandt, Vandyck, Watteau, Rossetti, Corot, Millet, and Puvis de Chavannes. Some of their almost priceless treasures belonged to Sir John Millais and Lord Leighton. It is no exaggeration to say that the collector who gathered such a set of drawings together in a lifetime might well feel proud though he might not feel satisfied - your true collector never is. Mr. Shannon has no story to tell of any unexpected bargain or rare find, for all of their treasures were purchased from people who were familiar enough with their value. Curiously enough one of the greatest treasures, a drawing by Rossetti which Mr. Shannon purchased from a dealer, was sold by an individual who years later sat to Mr. Shannon an was much surprised to see the picture among the artist's collection.

[Note: the name of Puvis de Chavannes was incorrectly given as Puvis de Chavonnes.]