The three vignettes Ricketts designed for the deluxe editions of Oscar Wilde's De Profundis did not originally include that of the star over the ocean. First there was another third vignette, which I will deal with next week. So the vignette best known by its frequent later use is an afterthought, a replacement.
|Oscar Wilde, The Duchess of Padua (1908)|
Vignette designed by Charles Ricketts,
originally used for the deluxe editions of De Profundis
It is the only vignette derived directly from the text, as I wrote in blog 503 (17 March 2021) and perhaps that is because of the need to come up with a new design. There is an older vignette that may have served as an example. Looking for inspiration, Ricketts may have thought of a circular vignette used for the cover of William Allingham's Evil May-Day that was published in 1882. The title poem is about growing up in an age of science after the death of god, but Allingham opposes atheism and science's 'rigid formulae':
|William Allingham, Evil May-Day (1882)|
The appeal of this vignette was its connection with the Pre-Raphaelites, especially Dante Gabriel Rossetti, who probably had the greatest influence on Ricketts's early views on art and book design, along with James McNeill Whistler. Several of Ricketts's designs for bookbindings from the early 1890s can be seen as responses to Rossetti's decorations. Allingham brought Rossetti very close; he was a long-time friend of his and Rossetti designed some illustrations for his work. Only a watercolour remains of a design for a binding of Allingham's Day and Night Songs; it was not used for the binding in 1854 (it was used for a later book, but by then Rossetti was already dead).