Wednesday, June 16, 2021

516. Keep Following Charles Ricketts & Charles Shannon...

Many readers of this blog receive a weekly notification by e-mail that a new blog has been published. The Feedburner system used for this purpose will cease to function in July. Therefore, a new subscription is necessary. 

Charles Ricketts & Charles Shannon (blog 513)

That is easily accomplished: please navigate to the bottom of this page where one will find my bio.  

Subscription box

Below this is a section called "Subscribe". Enter your e-mail address in the box below and then press the "Subscribe" button. You will see a confirmation: "Thank you for subscribing!"

From them on, each week, on the day of publication of a new blog,  you will receive an email via MailChimp

(In some instances - as is often the case with this type of email - it will be marked as spam. Please check your spam mailbox as well).

I sincerely hope that you will sign up again to continue following this blog in a smooth way.

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

515. Thomas Stainton, a Vale Press Collector (2)

Thomas Stainton's collection consisted of two sections. The oldest section comprised manuscripts and printed books in remarkable bindings. The second part contained publications from the 1890s: some Oscar Wilde books and an incomplete set of The Yellow Book, but mostly private press editions. 

Barham House, Kent
(the library was located on the ground floor,
behind the two windows on the right)

Subsequent additions by the family that inherited the collection (and relocated the library to Barham House near Canterbury) are rather miscellaneous: a Cuala Press edition of Yeats's poetry; a monograph about the architect E.L. Lutyens (who remodelled Barham House); British Flowery Plants by Perrin and Boulger (1914), A History of English Furniture (1904-1908), and some facsimiles of manuscripts that fit well with the old nucleus of the collection. There was also a notable section of works by Joseph Conrad, including a dedication copy with an autograph letter from the author who lived near the Stainton family (and was buried in Canterbury in 1924).

Private presses

Evidently, in later life, Thomas Stainton became interested in the ideas of William Morris and, at the end of the nineteenth century, began collecting publications of the private presses. Only one work from the Doves Press was listed (Tacitus, 1900), the same goes for the Essex House Press (Bunyan, 1899). 

However, the Eragny Press was represented with fifteen books (lots 100-107), and the Kelmscott Press with seven books (lots 147-153).

Kelmscott Press lots 147-152
(Catalogue of a Library of Printed Books, Manuscripts and Fine Bindings.
The Property of Mrs. Evelyn Stainton, Barham House, Canterbury

London: Sotheby & Co., 26-27 February 1951)

Stainton must have taken this new branch of his collection seriously, as evidenced by the presence of a copy of the most famous private press edition from the 1890s, a paper copy of Chaucer's Works. (In 1951, this copy was purchased by Maggs for £105.) Stainton's ownership and the 1951 auction are not mentioned in The Kelmscott Chaucer. A Census by William S. Peterson and Sylvia Holton Peterson (2011). The copy may have changed hands a few times since. 

Apparently, Stainton did not mark these new books with an inscription, and he did not have a bookplate made. In the manuscripts and printed books from the thirteenth to the eighteenth century, he wrote his name and the date of purchase, but the new books remained without any trace of the owner.

Vale Press

By far the largest part of his private press collection was formed by 95 volumes issued by the Vale Press. This was a nearly complete collection with only two omissions and a few duplicates. It took up lots 247 through 276 in the 1951 auction catalogue. 

Among the pre-Vale publications are copies of Daphnis and Chloe, Hero and Leander and The Sphinx. Thomas Stainton must have taken a subscription to all the works of the Vale Press; the only two volumes missing are E.B. Browning's Sonnets from the Portuguese (1897) and A Catalogue of Mr. Shannon's Lithographs (1902). 

Vale Press, lots 259-276
(Catalogue of a Library of Printed Books, Manuscripts and Fine Bindings.
The Property of Mrs. Evelyn Stainton, Barham House, Canterbury

London: Sotheby & Co., 26-27 February 1951)

Two duplicate copies of three books were present: Maurice de Guérin's The Centaur. The Bacchante (1899), Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam (1901) and Thomas Browne's Religio Medici (1902). 

Among the star items in his Vale Press collection are two books printed on vellum (and bound to a special design by Ricketts) and another five books that, while simply printed on paper, have a goat- or pigskin leather binding to a unique design by Ricketts. It is no comparison to the extremely rich legacy of his contemporary Laurence Hodson, but it is a considerable collection on its own.

Vale Press, lot 254-256
(Catalogue of a Library of Printed Books, Manuscripts and Fine Bindings.
The Property of Mrs. Evelyn Stainton, Barham House, Canterbury

London: Sotheby & Co., 26-27 February 1951)

The early Vale Press editions were printed exclusively on paper and not bound in leather. From October 1897, copies were also printed on vellum and from a year later copies could be bound in leather to a design by Ricketts.

Thomas Stainton commissioned special bindings for some of the early editions: The Poems of Sir John Suckling (1896) was bound in (probably creme) pigskin and decorated with a blind-stamped design. A similar binding was commissioned for Vaughan's Sacred Poems (1897). These bindings are extremely rare, in most cases only one copy has survived, in some cases three copies exist.

For other editions, the collector commissioned bindings in goatskin leather to a design by Ricketts: the two volumes of Tennyson's In Memoriam and Lyric Poems (1900), for example, have been bound in green morocco, the Poems of John Keats (two volumes, 1898) were bound in red morocco tooled to a design by Ricketts - (a similar set was the subject of blog 356: Vale Press Keats Edition in a Deluxe Binding) - and a copy of Shelley's Lyrical Poems (1898) was bound in red morocco to a design by Ricketts, executed by Zaehnsdorf. 

Stainton owned a vellum copy of William Blake's Poetical Sketches (1899), bound in a vellum binding with gilt spine; Ricketts, by now, had decided to have the vellum copies bound to a standard design with front and back covers left blank. Stainton also owned a vellum copy of The Sonnets of Sir Philip Sidney (1897), bound in (quoting the catalogue) 'red morocco tooled to a design by C. Ricketts, a series of line panels, one within the other, leaves at corners and on back, g.e., bound by Riviere under the supervision of C. Ricketts and signed "H R" [Hacon and Ricketts]'. 

Michael Field, Fair Rosamund (1897)
[British Library, Davis274]

The two books printed on vellum did not fetch the highest prices: £28 (Sidney, in a special binding) and £10 (Blake, in a standard binding), indicating that the buyers were mainly interested in bookbindings. The highest bid, £36, was for the two volumes of Keats (printed on paper, but in special bindings), immediately followed by the one-volume edition of Michael Field's Fair Rosamund (1897) that was sold for £32. This was the true highlight of Staintons's Vale Press collection. It was acquired by the book- and printseller Heinrich Eisemann (1890-1972). The next owner was Max Reich, whose collection was sold in 1960. Henry Davis owned this book until 1968, when he donated his collection of bookbindings to the British Library.

Mirjam Foot described the binding in her book The Henry Davis Gift. A Collection of Bookbindings (1983) as: 'Red goatskin tooled in gold to a design of concentric panels with small solid tools, leaf tools, crowns, and R tools. The spine has five gold-tooled bands and six compartments tooled in gold; title lettered on spine. Bound by Riviere & Son (stamp).'

Michael Field, Fair Rosamund (1897) [detail]
[British Library, Davis274]

Obviously, the 'R's refer to the name of the heroine, Rosamund, and the crowns to her position as mistress of King Henry II. Some tools are not mentioned by Foot. These are the small solid heart shape and an open heart shape (love). In the four corners the two shapes are connected by double lines to form an arrow of love (Amor). The central panel contains eight stylised roses (Rosamund). Ricketts's original design drawing for this copy is in the V&A collection.

Thomas Stainton's collection had a secret existence for more than half a century, and even after that, the provenance of the books was often unclear and his nephew's widow was indicated as the (last) owner. There is no known correspondence between Ricketts and Stainton, or between the publisher or shop of Hacon & Ricketts and the collector. Why he was particularly interested in the Vale Press we may never know.

Wednesday, June 2, 2021

514. Thomas Stainton, a Vale Press Collector (1)

In February 1951, Sotheby & Co in London issued a catalogue of the collection of books from the property of Mrs. Evelyn Stainton, Barham House, Canterbury: Catalogue of a Library of Printed Books, Manuscripts and Fine Bindings. Advertisements highlighted the collection of book bindings, "including a binding for Frederick, Prince of Wales, and an unpublished binding for Thomas Mahieu (Maiolus)". 

The second book was a psalter printed in Basle in 1547, and probably bound for Thomas Mahieu around 1555. This is lot 216 in the catalogue, sold to Konniche - or Konninck? (in the list of prices and buyers' names both forms of the name are listed) - for £500. 

The first book was Robert Tailfer's True and Correct Tables of Time of 1736 in a binding with the arms of Frederick, Prince of Wales, father of George III. This lot, number 241, was sold to Michelmore for £60. G. Michelmore's collection was sold on 14 October 1953, when Queen Elizabeth II acquired the book for the Royal Collection Trust (for £200).

Nathaniel Evelyn William Stainton (1863-1940)

The widow Harriet Wilhelmina Stainton, born Grimshaw would dispose of the contents of Barham House later that year through Phillips, Son & Neale in London: 'old-English and decorative furniture, eastern carpets, porcelain, pictures, silver and plated ware'. She moved to Sevenoaks.

From her marriage in 1912, she had lived in Canterbury in the house her husband had moved into a few years earlier. His name was Nathaniel Evelyn William Stainton. He had been born in London on 20 June 1863 and would die on 1 November 1940 in Bridge, Kent. At his death in 1940, he left a fortune of £101,863 (net personalty £45,445), which was divided between his two sons. (The couple also had two daughters.) His wife received an annuity of £4,000He must have had a considerable amount of money at his disposal before he inherited another £50,000 or so from an uncle in 1909.

Catalogue (Sotheby & Co., auction of 26-27 February 1951)

The obituaries remain silent about the book collection. However, his social functions are mentioned. He was Justice of the Peace of the County, president of the Village Hall (he had contributed 'the bulk of the money which enabled it to be built'), president of the local District Nursing Association and of the Barham Conservative Association. He was remembered as a 'keen churchman' and 'a real sportsman'. 

Evelyn Stainton was not a book collector, he had probably inherited the collection from Thomas Stainton, who collected books 'in the last forty years of the nineteenth century' (according to The Burlington Magazine, February 1951).

Thomas Stainton (1825-1910)

It is not clear how Thomas Stainton's books came to his nephew Evelyn Stainton. In his will, Thomas (who died unmarried) left an annual sum to the butler and his wife, and the 'residue' went to 'four nieces'. The latter must have been a mistake for two nieces and two nephews, the others having died. 

Stainton was born on 27 July 1825 in London, went to college in Oxford (BA 1851); he lived in London for the rest of his life. After his death, his collection of paintings and old Italian bronzes was sold at auction at Foster's, Pall Mall. The London Daily News (1 July 1910) reported that the bronzes were 'picked up for "half nothing", it is said by the late Mr. Thomas Stainton, 37, Welbeck Street', and now they realised 'striking prices'.

Emblemas morales de Don Ivan de Horozco y Couarruuias
Arcediano de Cuellaren en la fanta Yglesia de Segouia

Books with owner inscriptions from Stainton may have been sold elsewhere. Maggs bought one of his books from Hodgson & Co in 1946, Juan Ochoa de la Salde's Primera parte de la carolea inchiridion... (1555), with the annotation 'Thomas Stainton, Jan. 28 1871'. This book did not appear in the 1951 Sotheby catalogue. A treatise now in the collection of the Folklore Society Library does not appear in that catalogue either, nor does a work now in the collection of emblemata at the University of Illinois, Emblemas morales de Don Ivan de Horozco y Couarruuias Arcediano de Cuellaren en la fanta Yglesia de Segouia (1589). It has the ownership inscription of Thomas Stainton on the title page (below the main title). It is likely, therefore, that some parts of the collection were sold on other dates and at other auction houses.

J. Calvin, La Concordance qu'on appelle harmonie (1558)
[Allard Pierson, Amsterdam]

The collection included diverse types of books: there was a large number of bindings containing manuscripts (such as books of hours), incunabula and other early printed works, often from France or Italy. An example is Calvin's La Concordance qu'on appelle harmonie (1558), no. 56 in the catalogue. It was bought by Maggs, came to the collection of John Roland Abbey, and currently is in the collection of Allard Pierson, Amsterdam. 

There was English literature (Dickens, Conrad), and books on birds, art or history, and several shelves with private press books. 

To be continued.

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

513. Dedication & Dedications

Collectors of books can vary enormously from one another, there are wolverines among them, explorers, and some collectors concentrate on a single subject, with, admittedly, some satellite subjects - too much fun to ignore. It's all a matter of dedication.

Maggs Bros Ltd devoted an initial catalogue to the collection of Philip Kent Cohen: Oscar Wilde & His Circle (catalogue 1512). In the introduction, Cohen - author of a biography of John Evelyn Barlas (1860-1914) - explains that he gained his fascination with the 1890s during lectures by James G. Nelson. This is the first catalogue in a series that will include volumes on The New Woman, The Rhymers' Club, and Book Arts.

Oscar Wilde, A House of Pomegranates (1891):
Cover design by Charles Ricketts (detail)

The chapters of most interest to this blog are those on Oscar Wilde (nos. 1-39, with an introduction to Wilde and bookselling by Ed Maggs), John Gray (nos. 177-207) and Ricketts and Shannon (nos. 279-280).

Oscar Wilde, A House of Pomegranates (1891):
Cover design by Charles Ricketts (detail)

For example, the Wilde section contains fine copies of the earliest Ricketts-designed books, such as Intentions and Lord Arthur Savile's Crime & Other Stories (both 1891), but the most eye-catching book is a dedication copy of Wilde's A House of Pomegranates, with a presentation inscription by Wilde to Margot Tennant (later Margot Asquith).

Oscar Wilde, A House of Pomegranates (1891):
Endpaper design by Charles Ricketts (detail)

The John Gray section contains some Vale Press editions edited by Gray, but here a group of five copies of Silverpoints, one of Ricketts's best known and most appreciated designs, stands out. There is a deluxe copy bound in vellum and printed on Spalding paper (but one of a series of unnumbered copies). 

There are four copies of the regular edition. 
1. a copy with a handwritten dedication to Lady Gregory;
2. a copy from Walter Pater's collection; this is one of a small number of copies of the regular edition printed on Spalding (the regular edition is printed on Van Gelder paper);
3. an ordinary numbered copy;
4. and another copy of the regular edition.
That's an impressive list.

John Gray, Silverpoints (1893):
Cover design by Charles Ricketts (detail)

The Ricketts and Shannon section is only brief and includes two items: an incomplete set of their magazine The Dial (No. 2-5) and a letter from Ricketts to the publisher regarding the design of Wilde's Poems (1892). The book was published on 26 May 1892, and this note is dated (by a third party) 4 April. Ricketts said he had made some changes to the design ('Please put the additions you require where I have indicated.'), and asked the publisher to remove the 'acorns I have scratched out'. This probably refers to the title page and the facing limitation statement.

The splendid catalogue contains descriptions of all items, dozens of illustrations and fascinating commentaries.

Wednesday, May 19, 2021

512. The Complete Correspondence of Gordon Bottomley and Thomas Sturge Moore (5)

Earlier, I wrote about the Gordon Bottomley-Thomas Sturge Moore correspondence, edited by John Aplin, and published online by InteLex Past Masters in Charlottesville, Virginia. This blog publishes some letters about Gordon Bottomley and his publisher Constable.

Charles Ricketts, cover design
for Gordon Bottomley, King Lear's Wife, The Crier by Night,
The Riding to Lithend, Midsummer Eve, Laodice and Danaë

In 1920, Constable & Company Limited published the first of four sumptuous books of plays and poems by Gordon Bottomley, all with cover designs by Charles Ricketts. In each case, two editions appeared: a regular trade edition and a deluxe edition. The correspondence shows that this was initiated by the publisher, which means the firm saw potential profit in Bottomley's work. Ricketts provided his designs as a gift to the author. Bottomley received copies of the regular edition of King Lear's Wife, The Crier by NightThe Riding to Lithend, Midsummer Eve, Laodice and Danaë on 8 July 1920, the deluxe copies arrived on 9 August.

In a letter from Bottomley to Michael Sadler (Constable), the author welcomed the idea of a limited edition:

I am very glad indeed to hear your idea of doing a small edition in vellum or white cloth; I shall of course be happy to sign these special copies, or to do anything else that will further the project. I should be glad if we could make some arrangement to have four copies done for me in addition to those you are doing for sale: I might say that none of these would be sent to people likely to buy the special copies. In carrying out this idea I wonder if it would be possible to stamp the design in gold? Ricketts tells me he designed it with that purpose in view, and it would be nice to see a few copies done so – though I hasten to add that he also approves the blue and grey for the ordinary edition.
(Letter from Gordon Bottomley to Michael Sadler, 24 April 1920, Temple, Constable Archive, cf. The Complete Correspondence of Gordon Bottomley and Thomas Sturge Moore at Intelex PastMasters, letter 434, 19-21 October 1920, note 19).

When the regular edition had been published, Bottomley wrote to Thomas Sturge Moore that he would have to wait a little longer for his copy. The bookbinder needed more time for the deluxe edition. 

The book is out; I expect you will have seen the advertisement in the T.L.S., so you will be expecting your copy to turn up soon, and I hasten to tell you it will not be ready just yet as I am having a special copy bound for you as Ricketts meant it to be. 
(Letter from Gordon Bottomley to T. Sturge Moore, cf. The Complete Correspondence of Gordon Bottomley and Thomas Sturge Moore at Intelex PastMasters (letter 399), 8 July 1920.)

The Times Literary Supplement,
24 June 1920

The design was ready in 1915, but it was not until after the war that the publisher was able to finance the book. Actually, all copies should have been bound in white buckram with the design printed in gold, but only the fifty numbered and signed copies were so executed. The regular edition has the design on a brown cardboard, printed in blue.

It did not end with those fifty copies, for Bottomley had six more copies bound identically for himself, but without the limitation statement (in the deluxe editions this is printed on the page facing the title page). 

Gordon Bottomley, King Lear's Wife, The Crier by Night,
The Riding to Lithend, Midsummer Eve, Laodice and Danaë

The additional deluxe copies are mentioned in a letter from Bottomley to T.S. Moore:

Sadler issued at a fabulous price 50 copies done in gold and white cloth as Ricketts intended; so I got him to do six more for me without the numbering and signing; and yours is one of those.
(Letter from Gordon Bottomley to T. Sturge Moore, cf. The Complete Correspondence of Gordon Bottomley and Thomas Sturge Moore at Intelex PastMasters, letter 434, 19-21 October 1920.)

The price of the deluxe edition was not mentioned in the advertisement in The Times Literary Supplement, but a leaflet issued in 1925 mentions 31s. 6d.

The edition of the three later Bottomley books published by Constable included lettered copies in addition to the numbered copies, and these were often used by the author as dedication copies. Oddly enough, the edition of these later books may also include deluxe copies without a limitation statement. At least one such copy is known of Poems of Thirty Years (1925), which is curious, because there were already seventy-five deluxe copies for sale, in addition to twelve copies for presentation. Possibly, regular copies were bound in deluxe left-over bindings.

Gordon Bottomley,
King Lear's Wife, The Crier by Night,
The Riding to Lithend, Midsummer Eve,
Laodice and Danaë

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

511. Charles Ricketts's Own Colophon for Silverpoints

Charles Ricketts designed the poetry collection Silverpoints by John Gray. The book appeared in March 1893, but not quite in the way Ricketts desired. In the bibliography of his Vale Press editions, he wrote that some of the books he designed before the Vale Press was established had been the subject of occasional difficulties with printers. This was the case with Silverpoints.

What exactly was missing? 

This is one of the early commissions Ricketts received from Elkin Mathews and John Lane (At the Bodley Head) and he wanted to put his name to it.

His name is represented only by his monogram found on the front and back of the binding: a square with the initials CR in the lower left corner, and by a second signed monogram opposite the last text page. Above the printer's name, the monogram CR appears between three branch and leaf motifs.

Colophon of John Gray, Silverpoints (1893)

In the front of the book, on the reverse side of the title page, is the justification for the edition. Proofs of the title page show that Ricketts had wanted his full name mentioned there. In 1989, the firm of Warrack & Perkins offered a copy of Silverpoints with these proofs in the catalogue The Turn of a Century, 1885-1910: 

Tipped in at the front of this copy is a proof of the title-page with a holograph inscription, “Dear Mr. Matthews (sic). This is the way these pages should be arranged - as I have numbered them, according to Mr. Ricketts. So now Mr. Leighton can proceed with the binding. Yours most sincerely, John Gray.” At the foot of the proof, on the right, opposite the imprint, is pasted a small slip, printed in red in the same italic face as the text of the book: “The binding design of water and willow leaves is by CS Ricketts. The build of the book has throughout been founded on the Aldine Italic books.” It is not clear whether Gray was returning a complete set of galleys (he had asked Lane to send him one in October 1892) or simply proofs of the preliminary leaves (as the phrase ‘these pages’ might suggest). If that were the case, then the red-printed slip might represent an addition to the preliminary text that Ricketts wished to be made (the wording is unmistakenly his) but which was never realized.

John Gray, Silverpoints (1893): verso of title page

Since the additional text was set in the book's typeface, it must have been Ricketts's intention that it be added to the title page, or to the verso of it.

The text was not completely lost. The earliest Bodley Head advertisements for the book contain this very phrase almost verbatim:

Cover (Water and Willow Leaves) and Initial Letters designed by C.S. RICKETTS. Limited Edition (Twenty-five Copies on Japanese paper, £1 1s.). Long 12mo, 7s. 6d. net. The build of this book has been founded throughout on the Aldine Italic Books. 
(The Academy, 10 December 1892, p. 548.)

This leaves room for several possibilities, such as: Ricketts saw the advertisements (based on his own information) and may have thought that this piece of information should actually be in the book; or: the book had already been printed, but not yet bound, and the publisher could merely use it in advertisements.

And questions remain: why was the request not granted, and why are the unused additional lines printed in red? Why would the publisher use Ricketts's name for advertisements, but not in the book itself?

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

510. Michael Field, Prostitution and The Hague

In an article about Michael Field, pseudonym of Katherine Bradley and Edith Cooper, Anna Gruetzner Robins wrote about the pair's erotic dreams and poems, but also about their study of Walter Pater's work in which 'male-male desire' predominates and in which images of women, such as Venus, are described in terms of prostitution: 'An undercurrent of revulsion runs through his comments. He imagines Venus to be a worn-out sex worker, a woman of the streets, up before dawn, with "sorrow in her face" at the thought of the whole long day of love yet to come.' ('A Woman's Touch: Michael Field, Botticelli, and Queer Desire' was published in Botticelli Past and Present, an open access publication of UCL Press, 2019). 

Michael Field had a crush on Botticelli's paintings, until Charles Ricketts convinced them that Edward Burne-Jones was a better painter. Apparently, he did not see that Burne-Jones could not help them have pleasant dreams. 

Capitoline Venus (Capitoline Museum, Rome)

Paintings such as Botticelli's 'Primavera' and sculptures such as the Venus of the Capitol triggered Michael Field's erotic fantasies. Katherine Bradley wrote from Rome to her lover Edith that, happily, the statue of Venus was unshrouded and unmutilated, but that 'the real beauty of the waist is only seen in the back', and she therefore hoped that someone would turn the statue around so that the 'beauty of the loins' could be engraved in her memory.

Her thoughts on the female body were firmly opposed to those of Pater and other nineteenth-century men. Gruetzner Robins briefly discusses Bradley's knowledge of prostitution. 

Josephine Butler (1876)

While living in Bristol, she had become acquainted with a group of Quakers around Josephine Butler who successfully opposed derogatory laws and measures against women in prostitution:

In September 1883 she travelled together with a group of women, including Josephine Butler, to attend the Third Annual Congress of the British and Continental Federation for the Abolition of State Regulation of Vice, at The Hague. There Katherine gave a speech herself and listened to five days of speeches about prostitution.
(Gruetzner Robins, p. 154)

From The Hague she wrote three long letters to Edith about her experiences in the Netherlands where the congress was held from 17 to 22 September 1883. She was one of the many attendees. It has to be said that most of the speakers were men and that there were special sessions where women were not allowed to participate and others that were organised exclusively for women, in addition to which Butler herself held meetings in her own chambers - and it was at one of those intimate meetings, an early-morning prayer-meeting, that Katherine Bradley manifested herself as a speaker. She did not make a speech, for it was during a prayer session that she said a prayer of thanks that won praise in the small devotional circle. This explains why her presence had escaped the notice of the Dutch journalists. There is nothing about these private meetings in the newspaper reports. In a letter of 23 September 1883 Bradley wrote to Edith:

I prayed in the midst of the people, and as I found from the loving gratitude of the Dutch ladies, was understood. I tried to say how that gathering made clear to me the meaning of the day of Pentecost, how though we could not all understand the words of some of the prayers we had heard each man speak in the tongue in wh. he was born, through the presence of the Holy Spirit. And bye the bye I prayed for the women of The Hague, when we left to begin the hard work, and especially gave thanks for these, who had adopted a tongue not their own for our sakes, and received us with such love and kindness. And the dear homely yet withal impressive and dignified ladies came to me and thanked me in a way I shall never forget.
(Sharon Bickle (Ed.), The Fowl and the Pussycat. Love Letters of Michael Field, 1876-1909. Charlottesville and London, University of Virginia Press, 2008, pp. 105-106).

Despite the hustle and bustle of the conference with speeches in English, French and Dutch, Katherine Bradley still saw something of the city and its surroundings. On 15 September, two days before the start, she arrived at Hotel Paulez.

Hotel Paulez [left], c.1880 (Collection Munipical Archives, The Hague)

In the centre of The Hague, opposite the Royal Theatre and on the corner of Korte Voorhout - where, after a bombing in 1945, the American Embassy designed by Marcel Breuer was to be built - stood the Hotel Paulez, which was a proud second on the list of luxury hotels in The Hague. The hotels that would later lead the ranking, such as Hotel des Indes where Pavlova stayed, did not yet exist at that time. Bradley therefore made an expensive choice, probably inspired by the stay of the entire delegation at the Hotel Paulez.

On her first day, she went with a delegation colleague to Scheveningen for a sea bath:

They gave me as it were a chemise in white flannel with no drawers: the experience though not very safe was delicious [...] The drive to ... the little sea-side place was through Magnificent alleys [...].
(letter, 19 September 1883)

That evening, she attended a busy reception given by the mayor of The Hague, J.G. Patijn, probably in the old city hall on the Groenmarkt.

Town Hall, The Hague (c.1900)

There were 'little glasses of foaming Champagne', 'little patties - wicked looking little things', 'tea in apparently blue Delft ware', after which she got into a conversation with a young Dutch woman with whom she talked about her dress, and Bradley tried to explain 'the high art position'. She was 'relieved to find she had heard of Morris'. Katherine and Edith 'rejected corsets and crinolines in favour of daringly clinging dresses in arty colours such as peach, gold or green, with hair loosely knotted at the nape of the neck' (see Emma Donoghue, We Are Michael Field, 1998, p. 33).

On the first day of the conference, she and Mary Priestman were helped by 'Pastor Pierson' in their search for a place to have lunch. Hendrik Pierson was one of the leading figures in the Dutch debate on prostitution and, according to Bradley, he spoke 'good' English and was 'serviceable'. 

Portrait of Hendrik Pierson (1896)
[Lithograph by Jan Pieter Veth]

Katherine described him as a man with long hair, a socialist who was to speak that evening. A group photo was taken of the participants that afternoon, but Mary and she 'remained obscure  in the background'. This photograph is depicted in The Fowl & the Pussycat, where the location is said to be the Zoological-Botanical Gardens. However, the company would only walk to the zoo after the photograph was taken, and the buildings in the background correspond to the environment of the place where the conference was held. The opening was held in the parliamentary buildings, in the famous Trèves hall, but the congress afterwards took place in the building of 'Kunst en Wetenschappen' (Arts and Sciences) on Zwarteweg. On such occasions, group photos were often taken in the gardens behind the building - some of those can be seen on the website of the Municipal Archives of The Hague. (This district, between Herenstraat and Schedeldoekshaven, was later demolished and replaced by new buildings.)

Kunst en Wetenschappen, c. 1880
[Collection Municipal Archives, The Hague]

Bradley bought some grapes, and the party moved to the Zoological Gardens where they 'sat by a pond, and watched the stork on one leg!' 

A delicious place this garden, with the most exquisite foliage plants, and nice brilliant coloured birds [...].
(19 September 1883)

The Zoological Gardens, The Hague
(map, c.1870)
[Collection Municipal Archives, The Hague]

In the gardens (located opposite today's central station), many plants and birds could be viewed, but there were also various animal species including kangaroos, deer, a camel, squirrels, antelopes, mouflons, zebras, marmots and bears.

On 22 September, a closing reception was held at the home of Henrik Count van Hogendorp (1842-1924) and his young wife Alice Ellen, born Gevers Deijnoot (1857-1905).

Henrik Count van Hogendorp
[Collection Municipal Archives, The Hague]

Katherine described the reception in a letter of 23 September 1883:

And then at half-past eight to the Count van Hogendorp's - the last great reception at one of the grand aristocratic old families of Holland.  [...] The young and beautiful wife had a word for each, - graceful and full of frankest charm [...] Tea in exquisite Delft ware - no handles to the cups - was passed round. I was introduced to a Dutch gentleman - then to his wife, and then in a quiet time looked round at the brilliant Assembly, and at the room, with its Delft wall-plate, its probably family miniatures, and soft tinted curtains. Afterwards in an adjoining room we gathered to hear Mrs Butler speak. There looked down the great  ancestral Hogendorps - approvingly I should think [...].

During Butler's speech, Bradley's gaze wandered to a small Dutch painting of a knitting girl in a white dress. Afterwards, many of the Dutch ladies approached her: 

I am to them a Dutch Madonna - their chosen, as it seems to me of all England's delegates.

And that was because of her prayer of thanksgiving the day before.

The next day Mary Priestman and Katherine Bradley travelled to Amsterdam and from there via Rotterdam back home. Whether Bradley, after this trip, ever spoke again at meetings of the Ladies National Association is unclear. But ethical subjects had the interest of both Michael Fields. They spoke out in favour of votes for women, supported a local anti-vivisection society, and Katherine Bradley had subscribed to John Ruskin's utopian Guild of St. George. Although public activism was set aside for literature; Bradley continued to attend lectures on socialism, and charity, and attended meetings of the Fellowship of the New Life, but 'appeared to have been more of a bystander than an involved member' (Diana Maltz, in Michael Field and Their World, ed. by Margaret D. Stetz and Cheryl A. Wilson, 2007, p. 198).

The prayer of thanks must have been an exceptional expression of faith for a poet who later adhered to pantheism (with a pagan temple in the garden) and still later converted to the Roman Catholic faith.

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

509. A Friend of the Frick

The Frick collection is now on temporary display in another location in New York, in the MET Breuer, a building that is the opposite of the museum's mansion, a modernist concrete structure designed by Marcel Breuer.

One of the countless articles devoted to this completely different way of presenting the works of art included the name of Charles Ricketts, who visited New York only once in his life.

On October 15, 1927, Ricketts sailed to Canada and after brief visits to Quebec and Montreal, he travelled to Ottawa to see the Ottawa Gallery. He had been advising the museum on art purchases for many years. The city kept him busy for three weeks. Then he went to snowy New York which, to his own surprise, he liked: Fifth Avenue, Broadway, the polyglot crowds, the skyscrapers. 

He examined various art collections: the MET, where he was told that the museum would do a show of his books. Indeed, there was an exhibition that year, when Harold Bell's collection of bookbindings was shown. Ricketts visited the collectors Grenville L. Winthrop and Henry Clay Frick and saw their private art collections. 

Hans Holbein, 'Sir Thomas More', 1527 (painting)
[The Frick Collection, New York]

An observation he made there is now quoted in Untapped New York, in an article by Julia Vitullo-Martin. From New York, Ricketts wrote a note to Sydney Cockerell, dated 20 November 1927:

I had to spend three weeks, not nine days, in Canada, and have had too short a time in New York. The Greek things are admirable, the Egyptian things superb, both well shown [in the MET]. I was overwhelmed by the Frick Collection. Imagine Sir Thomas More, the beautiful saint, and Cromwell, the monster, united in history, art, and tragedy, now facing each other united by Holbein and time and chance!
(Self-Portrait, 1939, p. 388).

Hans Holbein, 'Thomas Cromwell', 1532-1533 (painting)
[The Frick Collection, New York]

In the Frick Museum, More's portrait hung to the left of a fireplace and Cromwell's to the right, and this order, determined by Frick himself, has always prevailed. In the temporary exhibition, too, the portraits hang side by side. Vitullo-Martin writes:

Sir Thomas More and his arch enemy, Thomas Cromwell, again face one another, but without the intervening fire place to soften the cold stares. Cromwell looks heavy, almost thuggish, while More looks confidently peaceful, as if he were Sir Laurence Olivier's uncle.

She then quotes Ricketts and introduces him as 'Frick's friend, the painter Charles Ricketts'. 

This friendship probably did not extend beyond Ricketts's one-time visit to the collection.

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

508. Emery Walker's Collection & Ricketts & Shannon

William S. Peterson recently published a compilation of articles about William Morris and personalities from his immediate circle, Morris & Company (Oak Knoll Press, 2020). Because of the lockdown, I only got the book last week. It contains articles previously published elsewhere, although it also includes some speeches and presentations not previously published in print. 

An article that appeared earlier in Matrix quotes Sydney Cockerell's diary, in which a visit to Ricketts and Shannon is noted for 7 December 1897. (Due to an unfortunate late decision to swap two articles in the book, neither the title page nor the index are correct; at least, for these two articles: the quote about Ricketts and Shannon is on page 100-101 and not on page 108-109). Anyway, although Cockerell later corresponded intensively with Ricketts, and we can infer that he had known Ricketts for some time, he especially mentioned that he liked Shannon.

On 9 December 1897 he made a few calls at a publisher, a type foundry, and a manufacturer of printing presses:

Then with Walker to 8 Hammersmith Terrace where I met Shannon & Ricketts. Like Shannon, whom I had not met before, very much.

Emery Walker (1851-1933), the technical genius behind both the Kelmscott Press and the Doves Press, together with Walter Boutall managed a company for process engraving, who reproduced some of the illustrations in Ricketts's and Shannon's magazine The Dial. Walker's collection included all the works of the Kelmscott Press and the Doves Press and all kinds of documents about both private presses, but it was broader and stayed in the family for a long time. In the 1990s it was sold to what is now The Wilson, formerly the Cheltenham Art Gallery and Museum. (See the catalogue for descriptions and images, in many cases including transcriptions of letters).

Website The Wilson, Cheltenham
The collection includes issues three and four of The Dial, as well as an announcement about ordering specially designed bookbindings, and a prospectus. The collection may be richer but it has not yet been catalogued as a whole - and, due to the lockdown, it is now unclear whether any other works by Ricketts and Shannon have been preserved in the collection.

One special copy has however been catalogued: Ricketts's A Defence of the Revival of Printing, published in June 1899, with a personal dedication to Walker:

to E Walker | from C. Ricketts | 17 July 1899.

Another presentation copy was given to Sydney Cockerell.

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

507. Ricketts, Symons, Gray

After moving to Edinburgh, John Gray visited friends in London with some regularity. He also stayed in touch with them in other ways, through letters or publications. In September 1928, the Dominican journal Blackfriars published a contribution by Gray which was read by Ricketts. 

On a postcard Ricketts wrote to A.J.A. Symons (with whom he was in contact about exhibitions of the First Edition Club and about a possible publication of his stories) that John Gray had published 'a charming new poem' and that he would keep this recent issue of the magazine for Symons. Many of Ricketts' letters are undated, but the postcard is postmarked 11 October 1928 and the most recent issue of Blackfriars prior to that date was the issue of September 1928. It contained a translation by Gray of a poem by Henri de Régnier.

Henri de Régnier

They have struck on the doors of gold
with the hefts of their rugged swords;
and their salt lips are cold
from the mists which hang in the fjords.

Like kings they have entered again
the bourg where torches flare;
the charger steps high, and his mane
flies back like the mad sea's hair.

They are bidden to notable feasts
in gardens, on terraces, spread
with sapphire and amethyst
of these lie on the ocean bed.

So drunk with wine of the years,
so dazzled with jewels and rings,
so deafened with praise, in their ears
the hammering ocean rings.

It is an adaptation of a poem that De Régnier published as part of a long section 'Motifs de légende et de mélancholie' in Poèmes 1887-1892 (Paris, Société de Mercure de France, 1895, pp. 60-61).

Ils ont heurté les portes d'or
Du pommeau rude de leurs glaives
Et leurs lèvres étaient encor
Amères de l'embrun des grèves.

Ils entrèrent comme des rois
En la ville où la torche fume,
Au trot sonnant des palefrois
Dont la crinière est une écume.

On les reçut en des palais
Et des jardins où les dallages
Sont des saphyrs et des galets
Comme on en trouve sur les plages;

On les abreuva de vin clair,
De louanges et de merveilles,
Et l'écho grave de la mer
Bourdonnait seul à leurs oreilles.

John Gray, Poems (1931): title page

After his first two major volumes from the 1890s, Silverpoints and Spiritual Poems, new poems by John Gray appeared only sporadically. Ad Matrem appeared in 1903, The Long Road in 1926. In 1931, he published his last poetry collection: Poems. This collection of poems was designed by Eric Gill and René Hague in a modern style: set in Gill's own type and with a title page that was also a table of contents (a rare combination of functions). It was published in 1931, but it did not include the poem that Ricketts had praised.

It was not reprinted during Gray's lifetime. Ricketts himself would not live to see the publication of Poems, as he died on 7 October 1931. Poems was published barely a month later and Gray was so impressed by the death of his former mentor and lifelong friend that he dedicated the volume to his memory.

John Gray, Poems (1931): dedication

Ricketts's letter to Symons is held in the Oscar Wilde and his Literary Circle Collection at the Clark Memorial Library (shelf mark: R539L S988 1928 Oct. 11).

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

506. The Designs on the Cover of 'Bibliography of Oscar Wilde' (6)

Last time I mentioned a vignette that was not used by Ricketts for the limited first editions of Oscar Wilde's De Profundis in 1905. The fourth vignette was replaced by that of the sea and the star. In an 1970 essay on bookbindings designed by Ricketts, Giles Barber wrote about De Profundis:

Here again we come back to Rossetti, for the plain ivory cover bears only three circles with simplified ornamentation and, between the top two, the calligraphically inscribed title. These top two circles show, on the left the imprisoned bird, on the right the free bird. Ricketts’s signed sketch for the binding, now in the possession of Mr. John Sparrow, shows that he intended his initials to appear hidden between the prison bars. This detail seems to have been dropped in the finished work.
(Giles Barber, 'Rossetti, Ricketts, and Some English Publishers' Bindings of the Nineties', The Library, December 1970, pp. 329-330) 

Charles Ricketts,
sketch for vignette of escaping bird
(current whereabouts unknown)
[reproduced after Christie's auction catalogue,
21 October 1992]

We can indeed see the initials 'CR' in the bottom right-hand section of the drawn vignette. This sketch was in the possession of John Sparrow, and was partly reproduced in the catalogue of the Christie's auction of his collection: Printed Books from the Celebrated Library of the late John Sparrow, O.B.E., Warden of All Souls College, Oxford (21 October 1992).

Barber continued:

More important is that on the original sketch the bottom circle originally bore a complicated circular thorn device which has been crossed out and that the final circular device, showing the star in the sky above the great waters as described in the concluding paragraph of the book, has been substituted. This fine and bare design, so unlike the nineteenth century in style, was adopted three years later for all the volumes of Methuen’s collected edition of Wilde. Since this design is so effective on the ivory vellum finally chosen it is perhaps interesting that in a footnote to the original sketch Ricketts wrote: "Please ask Mr. Leighton. Ask for specimen on black cloth, on green cloth (same as Vale Shakespeare) and mauve cloth same as used on Oscar Wilde’s plays".'
(Giles Barber, 'Rossetti, Ricketts, and Some English Publishers' Bindings of the Nineties', The Library, December 1970, p. 330).
The vignette of a thorn was not used by Ricketts for Wilde's works, and yet we have reason to believe that it has not completely fallen out of favour. The question is whether Barber has identified it correctly.

Once again, Stuart Mason (pen-name of Christopher Sclater Millard) comes into the picture.

In 1907 Mason had published a study and bibliography on The Picture of Dorian Gray: Art and Morality. After Wilde's collected works appeared in 1908, followed in 1910 by the so-called Second Collected Edition in a smaller format, bound in green buckram, Mason published a second revised edition of Oscar Wilde. Art & Morality in 1912. The new edition was published by a different publisher: Frank Palmer in London. In the 1914 Bibliography of Oscar Wilde, Mason himself described this new edition as 'Uniform with Methuen's foolscap 8vo edition of Wilde's works'.

Oscar Wilde, Lord Arthur Savile's Crime and Other Stories (1910)
and Stuart Mason, Oscar Wilde. Art & Morality (1912)

Mason's work does indeed look suspiciously like the Methuen volumes, also because Wilde's name has now been added to the title, so that at first, the book even seems to have been written by him. The vignette of the sea is not used here. The new vignette seems to reasonably match Barber's description. Would Ricketts have allowed him to use it? Nobody is thanked for the design in the preface and the vignette is not even mentioned in his later bibliography.

If we look closely at the design, we can see that the thorny branches are actually flames.

Vignette on the cover of Stuart Mason,
Oscar Wilde. Art & Morality (1912)

The similarity to the vignettes of the escaping and free birds is immediately apparent: the shape of the same bird is cut out in the middle, including the spread wings and the opened beak. To the right, we see a preview of the later vignette of the star - here still accompanied by the crescent moon. At the bottom, flames swirl up, reaching left to top and surrounding the bird on various sides. In other words: Ricketts did not draw thorny branches; the vignette depicts the bird Phoenix rising from its ashes. 

The vignette must be the previously unused vignette: it fits seamlessly with the bird devices and it already uses elements from the star-over-sea vignette. It has all the subtlety we would expect from a Ricketts design.

But this adds to the mystery: Ricketts must have lent an earlier sketch (the later one being 'crossed out') to Mason/Millard, perhaps through the intervention of Robert Ross. From 1906 Ross had supported Millard (who had been imprisoned for homosexuality), and Millard had helped him prepare the collected works of Wilde, and later, between 1910 and 1913, hwas Ross's personal secretary, only to be fired after he became embroiled in court cases again. 

This explains why Mason could not borrow the other vignettes, and used clumsy imitations for the Bibliography of Oscar Wilde. Originally, when negotiations about the Collected Works of Wilde were opened by Robert Ross, Methuen considered issuing the bibliography separately, but uniform to the de-luxe edition, on a royalty basis, and Millard/Mason and his friend Walter Ledger were requested to make their own arrangements with Methuen. It seems, these were not even started before Millard was arrested at Iffley in April 1906. The 1908 edition of the Collected Works did not include the bibliography, and when it was finally published in 1914, Methuen, the owner of the original blocks for Ricketts's decorations, did not lend them to the publisher T. Werner Laurie.

The question remains as to why Ricketts initially rejected this very fine Phoenix vignette. The explanation may lie precisely in the great affinity with the other two bird vignettes, the escaping bird and the free bird. These two symbolise the soul of Oscar Wilde who, still in prison, was already thinking ahead to his freedom, and was in fact freed from earlier pre-occupations by focusing on the essence of human existence (as Wilde wrote in De Profundis). Ricketts thus drew the unfree and the free soul, and an image of the resurrected phoenix was in fact duplicitous. 

However, it does mean that we can add a new title to the list of books decorated or designed by Charles Ricketts: Stuart Mason's Oscar Wilde: Art & Morality (1912).