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.]