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.
|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).
|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)