Wednesday, September 29, 2021

531. Hand-Coloured by Miss Gloria Cardew (3)

There are not many articles in newspapers and magazines that pay attention to Gloria Cardew's work around 1900 and only one mentions her work for the Vale Press books. That she also coloured editions of the Kelmscott Press is mentioned in The Sketch, 28 December 1898, p. 368:

Miss Cardew has even been trusted by some fortunate possessors of Kelmscott editions with the task of colouring the designs and borders, and their confidence in her powers has been fully justified.

Label in books hand-coloured by Gloria Cardew


In the same year in The Contemporary Review (August 1898), Albert Louis Cotton mentioned copies of Vale Press books coloured by Gloria Cardew (the article was partly reprinted in The Academy Supplement of 6 August 1898):

In Miss Gloria Cardew, a young art student,a  colourist has recently appeared who is capable of doing charming work in this direction. [...] Miss Cardew’s efforts form one more attempt to revert to good individualistic handwork, as opposed to the mechanical methods of a time in which sixpenny magazines, crowded with process blocks, furnish the mental pabulum of millions. It is difficult to realise the effect of, say, one of the Vale books, with its initials and borders embellished with delicate tints, after the fashion of the ancient miniaturists. Among Miss Cardew’s triumphs must especially be noted Mr. F.S. Ellis’s “History of Reynard the Fox,” a metrical version of the old English translation, with its fifty woodcut engravings after Mr. Walter Crane. These last, when decorated in gold and colours, in the medieval style, almost place the volume on a level with the illuminated manuscripts which were the glory of the monks of old.


Unfortunately, no titles of Vale Press books that were coloured by Cardew were mentioned. In an article on Cardew for The IBIS Journal, Denis Collins wrote in 2014 that he was aware of three such Vale Press books. I listed them in my blog 202:


1.
Michael Drayton, Nimphidia and the Muses Elizium (November 1896).
The Drayton copy was described by Howard M. Nixon in his British Bookbindings presented by Kenneth H. Oldaker to the Chapter Library of Westminster Abbey (London, Maggs Bros, 1982), and is now in that library. It was purchased by Oldaker from the firm of Heywood Hill.

2.
William Blake, The Book of Thel, Songs of Innocence, and Songs of Experience (May 1897)
The Blake was offered for sale by Bromer Booksellers in Catalog 110. Five British Presses: Daniel, Eragny, Vale, Essex House, Gregynog. Select Stock and Recent Acquisitions (Boston, November 2001, No. 53).

3.
Michael Field, Fair Rosamund (May 1897).

To this short list can be added another shorter one of two Vale Press books. Both are special in their own way.

4.
The Sonnets of Sir Philip Sidney (March 1898).
This copy has the library ticket of 'Earlston Reading-Room and Circulating Library No. SH80'. It  also has a printed label with the text: 'The Illustrations in this Book were coloured by hand by Miss Gloria Cardew.' 
There is a (possibly unique?) handwritten inscription on one of the endleaves: 'The illustrations in this book were coloured by me Gloria Cardew April 1898. This copy was sold at auction in 2021: Rare Books, Manuscripts, Maps & Photographs. Edinburgh, Lyon & Turnbull, 24 February 2021, lot 199. Now in a private collection.

The Sonnets of Sir Philip Sidney (1898)
Hand-coloured by Gloria Cardew

5.
The Rowley Poems of Thomas Chatterton (June 1898).
Signed on inserted leave: 'Gloria Cardew'.
Owner's stamp of Helen Ladd Corbett.
This is one of eight copies on vellum, two volumes bound in one by Riviere & Son.
Offered for sale in Catalogue No. 8 (E-List), Recent Acquisitions (March 2020). Saint Louis Park, MN, USA, Under the Hill Books, Nolan Goodman, [17 March 2020], no. 10. Now in a private collection.

The Rowley Poems of Thomas Chatterton (1898)
Hand-coloured by Gloria Cardew

This supplement thus contains two new items of information about Gloria Cardew's coloured copies of Vale Press books. She dared to have a go at an extremely rare and precious copy printed on vellum. To sign her work, she has included a handwritten note in the other book in addition to her printed label. It brings Cardew just a little closer.

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

530. Hand-Coloured by Miss Gloria Cardew (2)

Six years ago I wrote a blog about the hand-coloured Vale Press books to which the name of Miss Gloria Cardew is attached (blog 202. Hand-Coloured by Miss Gloria Cardew). In the meantime, there are some new facts to report, on the one hand due to the discovery of an unknown interview with the artist, and on the other hand due to the emergence of more Vale Press books coloured by her. 

Miss Gloria Cardew
The Ladies Field, 11 December 1898

Nothing was known about Cardew's life until now, except that she was about twenty years old when she first exhibited work at Karslake & Co. It is therefore suggested that the name is a pseudonym. Although a few photos have been published, I had not seen the one accompanying this blog before. She worked between 1897 and 1902 and then disappeared from the scene.

The author (E.M.E.) of the untraceable magazine The Ladies Field, 11 December 1898 (there is one copy preserved in the British Library), interviewed her, but does not quote her directly. 

However, two new facts emerge: that she spent several years in California and that she began her career as a colourist by colouring her own photo portrait. Below is the main part of the article (with thanks to John Aplin).


E.M.E., ‘Miss Gloria Cardew. Hand Colourist of Book Illustration’, in The Ladies Field, 11 December 1898, p. 84:

Miss Gloria Cardew, who is young and enthusiastic, produces choice work as a colourist. Not only does she possess the true feeling for colour and its [one word illegible], but she has also dexterity in the application of colour to black-and-white drawings; hence the finished results obtained by her. I have seen many beautifully illustrated books coloured by Miss Cardew with the greatest skill. […]  it may be mentioned that the Duchess of York has just accepted a volume of “Children’s Singing Games,” coloured by Miss Cardew, for her little son, Prince Edward.

Miss Cardew’s work, dainty and delicate as it is, seems specially adapted to the illustration of fairy-tales, poems, fanciful subjects, and, particularly, all kinds of books for children, to whom the educative value of good colour is of paramount importance. In examining the artistic books to which I have alluded, what impressed me more even than the colouring was the infinite fund of patience brought to bear upon the work, especially in cases where many facsimile copies of one book are required.

In the course of my visit to Miss Cardew, she showed me her first attempt at hand-colouring. It was her own photograph; and that was the simple beginning of what has now grown into an elaborate graceful art. Miss Cardew has spent some three or four years of her life in California, and I cannot help thinking that her colour-sense must have been greatly influenced, and to some extent developed, by the brilliant colour effects to be seen in that dry atmosphere. Certainly she has a rare perception of colour, as well as a marvellously delicate touch.

Messrs. Karslake and Co., 61, Charing Cross Road, who are agents for “The Guild of Women Binders,” exhibit Miss Gloria Cardew’s work, and, I believe, transact business for her. I learn from Mr. Karslake that the colouring of an illustrated book increases its value by 200 per cent. Moreover, there is a demand for these embellished volumes, chiefly, of course, among collectors and connoisseurs. The colouring is copyright, and cannot be infringed by colour-printing. Therefore, each book is practically an artist’s proof.


It appears that Miss Cardew has undertaken to colour 100 numbered copies of the “Song of Solomon”—with Mr. Granville Fell’s fifteen plates—on large Japanese paper, and twelve out of the hundred are to have a set of the large plates printed on white vellum, in addition to the impressions on Japanese paper. Besides these plates, the text of this volume contains sixteen decorative drawings.I have seen one complete specimen, and it is indeed a work of art.

Mr. Cyril Davenport, of the British Museum, is among those who are interested in this revival of hand-colouring as initiated by Miss Cardew. As may be supposed, she is kept constantly busy, and finds her occupation so absorbing and fascinating that she is prone to neglect such every-day matters as outdoor air and exercise. Fortunately, however, her friends do not permit of too close a pursuit of brush and water-colour.

I marvel exceedingly at Miss Gloria Cardew’s gift of patience.

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

529. A New Catalogue: "The Vale Press of Charles Ricketts"

Sales catalogues or e-lists devoted entirely to the books of the Vale Press and Charles Ricketts are quite rare. On September 7, Blind Horse Books in DeLand, Florida, distributed online a list of 25 items: nineteen works (in twenty volumes), five related books about Ricketts, and one prospectus for a Vale Press book. Some of these works can also be found on the antiquarian bookshop's website

Screenshot of Blind Horse Books' website, September 2021

The condition of most of the books is far from perfect: there are damaged spines, sun-darkened covers, and some copies have been rebound, in one case by the American bookbinder James Tapley, who died in 2019. One of the items is the booklet we published ourselves: Charles Ricketts's Mysterious Mother that Tapley bought when it was published. The books in this catalogue are from his collection. He may have bought some books in poor condition with a view to re-binding them.

An example of Tapley's bookbindings can be found on the website of the SMU Bridwell Library, Perkins School of Theology: the binding he made in 2019 (the year of his death) for the Vale Press edition of Henry Vaughan's Sacred Poems. This copy is now offered for sale in the Blind Horse Books list.

Other books were acquired by Tapley out of interest in Ricketts's work, and there are two extremely interesting items here.

One of them is Ricketts's reminiscences of Oscar Wilde, published posthumously by the Nonesuch Press in 1932, Oscar Wilde. Recollections. This copy is not numbered and comes from the collection of the Nonesuch Press publisher Francis Meynell who always kept a few copies for himself before the numbers were written into the copies. A note from his nephew documents the provenance. In addition to this unnumbered copy, and the numbered copies of the edition, there are also copies 'out of series' for review.

Another exceptional book is Ricketts's Beyond the Threshold from 1929. The book should have appeared before Christmas 1928 (Ricketts wrote in a letter), but the earliest dedication copy is dated 7 March 1929. The Tapley copy contains an invoice from the publisher A.J.A. Symons/The First Editions Club for G.C. Williamson, which shows that the book cost £3 3s when published and that it was already available in February: the invoice is dated 19 February 1929.

Wednesday, September 8, 2021

528. Ricketts's Grandfather in Seville

Charles Ricketts was very fond of his grandfather, Edward Woodville Ricketts (1808-1895), who lived in Ryde on the Isle of Wight and whose 'beautiful voice & diction' he later remembered with affection. There were not many family members he ever spoke about, let alone in a positive way, but his grandfather was one of his favourites. Paul Delaney, in his 1990 biography, wrote that Ricketts remembered his grandfather as 'kindness & sweetness incarnate'. (A portrait is printed opposite page 8.) A miniature portrait of Edward by Andrew Plimer appeared in The Connoisseur in 1909. The portrait was painted in 1814 when he was about six years old.



Andrew Plimer, portrait of Edward Woodville Ricketts (1814)

His house was filled with a fine collection of books and with paintings that Ricketts later remembered well. His grandfather left those paintings to a childhood friend with whom he had travelled to Italy, Lord Northesk, and when Northesk's collection was auctioned at Sotheby's in June 1915, Ricketts went to see the paintings, recognizing 'the old "Bassano," once in the Ryde dining-room', and other paintings by Masaccio and Pesellino (he thought). The emotions overwhelmed him and he fled Sotheby's rooms, almost fainting on the stairs.

But grandfather was not only an art lover. A recent discovery by one of his descendants, John Ashwell - Edward was his 'great, great, great grandfather' - shows that Edward Woodville Ricketts also sometimes manifested himself as an artist.

Edward Woodville Ricketts, etching signed E.R. 1833

The etching is signed in the lower left-hand corner: 'E.R. 1833', and a note in pencil states: 'Edward Ricketts fecit 1832'.

Pictured is Seville's famous clock tower, the Giralda, which dates back to the twelfth century and was built as a minaret.

We can deduce from this that he was not an undeserving draughtsman, and that he was a collector with a knowledge of artistic techniques. We also now know that he not only made trips to Italy, but also to the southern coast of Spain, perhaps on his way to Italy or on his way back home.

[With gratitude to John Ashwell for the scan of the etching and for his kind permission to reproduce it here.]

Wednesday, September 1, 2021

527. Charles Ricketts: A War Illustration

Of course, there is never a period without a war going on somewhere, but in recent weeks we have again been confronted with deplorable facts: terror, change of regime, violence, fear, victims and refugees.

Charles Ricketts, 'Black Agnes', as published in
Annie S. Strachan, Famous Women in Scottish History
(1909)

Charles Ricketts published his first drawings in a book when he was twenty-one: they were mainly war scenes for Cassell's History of England, Volume 1: From the Roman Invasion to the Wars of the Roses. (Read more about these early illustrations in blog number 224.) One of these drawings depicted the attack on Dunbar castle that was defended by Agnes, Countess of Dunbar in 1337. The caption read: 'Black Agnes at the siege of Dunbar Castle'. Large chunks of stone fly through the air, one of the soldiers is hit by an arrow in his eye while Black Agnes watches the battle unfold.

The pen drawing (202 x 147 mm), signed C. Ricketts, illustrated the text on page 400: 

Another of the most remarkable defences of these castles was that of Dunbar by the Countess of March. She was the daughter of the renowned Thomas Randolph, first Earl of Moray, of that family so gloriously associated with Scottish history, and from her complexion was called Black Agnes. The castle of Dunbar was built on a chain of rocks running into the sea, and its only connection with the mainland was well fortified. Montague, Earl of Salisbury, besieged it, and brought forward engines to throw stones, such as were used to batter down walls before the invention of cannon. One of these, with a strong roof to defend the assailants, standing up like a hog’s back, was called the sow. When Black Agnes saw this engine advancing, she called out to the Earl of Salisbury, in derision – 'Beware Montagow, For farrow shall thy sow.' She had ordered a huge stone to be set on the wall over the castle gate, and as soon as the sow came under this was let fall, by which means the roof of the machine was crushed in, and as the English soldiers ran out, they were shot down by a flight of arrows; whereupon the Black Agnes shouted out to Salisbury, 'Behold the litter of English pigs!' As the earl brought up fresh engines, and sent ponderous stones against her battlements, Black Agnes stood there, and wiped disdainfully the fragments of the broken battlements away with her handkerchief, as a matter of no moment.

Ricketts's drawings became the property of Cassell, who sold their blocks on a large scale to other publishers. This is how, more than twenty years later, the illustration of Agnes came to J.W. Butcher publishers in London, who used it as the frontispiece in the publication Famous Women in Scottish Story (1909). It shows how little control the young artist had over the distribution of his work. Years later, when he was already reasonably well known, youthful works could turn up in books uninvited.