Wednesday, July 14, 2021

520. An Early Caricature by Charles Ricketts

As an artist, Charles Ricketts was not easily satisfied, and on one of his moves, he threw a lot of his youthful work into the bin. Shannon did the same - it was the result that mattered, not the sketches or the way to get there. (Friends sometimes kept those drawings.) In an album in the British Museum one finds a photograph of a very early sketch, said to be by Ricketts. (The museum number is 1962,0809.2.55). The drawing is dated 27/2/1882. Ricketts was not yet sixteen then.

Charles Ricketts, photograph of a caricature dated 27 February 1882
[Image: British Museum, London: 1962,0809.2.55.
(CC BY-NC-SA 4.0) license]
(with permission of the executors of the Charles Ricketts estate,
Leonie Sturge-Moore and Charmain O'Neil)

The drawing measures 75 by 65 mm, and it depicts 'a man in silhouette, whole-length profile to left' (quote from the catalogue). It seems to be a young man. There is a caption written in a speech bubble and the words are hard to decipher, but I think it says: 'I never wish anything but I demand'.

It may be a student joke, a sketch made out of boredom or discontent. The image has not been published before.

The original will probably have been thrown away. The photo was saved, and came via Robert Steele to Riette Sturge Moore, who donated the album to the BM in 1962.

Even when he was older, Ricketts continued to make caricatures. There is, for instance, a self-portrait of him slumped in a chair, asleep after a dinner where he obviously overate.