Wednesday, April 27, 2022

560. Charles Shannon and the Seated Lady

Irregularly, but not even that infrequently, paintings by Charles Shannon come on the market. At the JS Fine Art auction house in Banbury, Oxfordshire, a 'Portrait of a Seated Lady', signed and dated 1905, will go under the hammer tomorrow.  

A week ago, the lady in the picture was not identified by the auction house, but by now it has been described as the portrait of Agnes Mary Goldman.

Charles Shannon, Portrait of Agnes Mary Goldman, 1905
[photos: JS Fine Art]

Agnes Mary Peel (1869-1959) was married to Charles Sydney Goldman (1858-1958) in 1899. The portrait was one of only two portraits Shannon completed in 1905, and this one was listed as 'The Hon. Mrs Goldman'. The provenance of the painting is Yaveland Manor, Isle of Wight, where Charles Goldman lived after a career as war journalist and ostrich farmer in South Africa and as a farmer in British Columbia.

Agnes Mary Goldman, her son Penryn, and her husband Charles Sydney Goldman

Charles Shannon, Portrait of Agnes Mary Goldman, 1905 (detail)
[photo" JS Fine Art]

Charles Shannon, Portrait of Agnes Mary Goldman, 1905 (detail)
[photo" JS Fine Art]

Shannon portrayed the sitter in profile with an elegantly draped pink curtain in the background and a convex mirror that he often showed in his paintings. The scene in the mirror is not entirely clear, but appears to be an ode to motherhood with a mother holding a young child.

PS, 30 April 2022:
Hammer price: £7,000.

Wednesday, April 20, 2022

559. Leonard Smithers and An Ideal Husband

Some publishers' actions are so weird that after a century they become downright inexplicable. In 1899, the adventurous Leonard Smithers published a 'fairy tale' by Anthony Hamilton, The Four Facardins, printed for the (non-existent) Lutetian Society in London. The society was intended to publish the works of Emile Zola, and as a front for the distribution of erotic works, although this tale is barely erotic.

Nothing strange so far. This is what Smithers was accustomed to doing.

There are copies of this edition with a paper cover and a frontispiece after a design by Hugh Graham. But there are also copies bound in green linen, without Graham's design and without the frontispiece. So far, everything stays within the framework of what can be expected from this publisher of both literary and offensive titles.

Count Anthony Hamilton, The Four Facarins (1899):
upper board of binding

As I wrote in January in blog 545 (Leonard Smithers, Charles Shannon and An Ideal Husband), Steven Halliwell and Michael Seeney published a booklet on Smithers and the edition of Oscar Wilde's play An Ideal Husband whose binding was designed by Charles Shannon. This publication of The Rivendale Press contained a remark and some photographs about The Four Facardins.

Here is where the weird part begins.

Count Anthony Hamilton, The Four Facarins (1899):

Halliwell and Seeney describe (and illustrate) a copy of this edition, which, like all copies in green cloth, has a red pasted-on spine label with the title of the book in gold. But after more than a hundred and twenty years, such title labels wear off, and when they come off (or are peeled off), beneath them emerges not an ordinary green spine, but a different title printed directly in gold on the green linen. The red title shield thus conceals a title that could no longer serve.

That title reads: An Ideal Husband.

The image below shows a title label that is damaged at the top. Part of the letter A (of An) can be seen.

Count Anthony Hamilton, The Four Facarins (1899):
spine label

A binding was therefore made with the spine title An Ideal Husband, but this was not actually used for Wilde's play.

Count Anthony Hamilton, The Four Facarins (1899):
spine label
[scan provided by Steven Halliwell]

Given the vignettes used (one five times on the front and another on the spine), this binding was not designed by Shannon, and the question is: why does it exist in this form? 

Why would Smithers first ask Shannon to design The Importance of Being Earnest, published early 1899, and An Ideal Husband, finished in June or July, and then have a completely different binding made, one that does not fit the "series" Oscar Wilde envisioned for his plays: cloth bindings in various shades of purple or brown, with the title and Shannon's designs in gold?

The only two reasons I can think of are not even likely to be the correct ones:
1. The binding was made for an intended reprint of An Ideal Husband. But this edition was cancelled. When the remaining copies of The Four Facardins were bound, this discarded binding was used. The cheapest solution was to paste a title label on the spine.
2. Shannon's designs did not arrive, despite agreements made, and in distress Smithers had this binding produced. However, just in time Shannon's sketches arrived after all causing this new binding to become obsolete. It was then used for remaining copies of The Four Facardins.

PS, 21 April 2022

One of my readers suggested the following:

Is it possible that whoever was making the bindings got the instructions for the two bindings confused? (Bruce Russell)

We cannot rule out this possibility, but it is unlikely that Smithers ordered two bindings. As for the Wilde edition, he was still waiting for Shannon's designs, and for The Four Facardins he initially commissioned a paper cover with illustrations by Hugh Graham. This edition appeared in April 1899, three months before The Importance of Being Earnest, and the bound copies of The Four Facardins are considered to be a later distributed portion of the print run.

Wednesday, April 13, 2022

558. Decorative Wall Art and Colouring Books

Some artists sell their work through the website Etsy and when I saw some book art by French artists on this platform, I also searched for Ricketts's name. That's how I discovered a dealer who runs the Lithograph Library.

Search results in Etsy, March 2022: 'Charles Ricketts'

As always, this kind of site leads you to commercial producers of all kinds of reproductions. This dealer also appears to be an ordinary internet copyist, but claims to have spent a lot of time on his product that is called:

1889 – Collection of 51 Charles S Ricketts Vintage Illustrations – The Dial – SVG – Instant Digital Download
£ 10,06

The "instant digital download of this art work" is described as a unique offer: there is only one available (mind you, of a digital file!), about which the dealer writes:

I found these wonderful illustrations by Charles S Ricketts while looking through an 1889 book (The Dial). I have taken the time to clean up and vectorize these illustrations and have sized each to fit on a standard 8.5 x 11 page.

What is this all about? - Not a book, at any rate. These are illustrations from the various issues of Ricketts and Shannon's magazine, The Dial that appeared between 1889 and 1897: illustrations by Ricketts, Shannon, Thomas Sturge Moore, Lucien Pissarro, and Reginald Savage - whose names are not mentioned.

They are advertised as "vintage" works from 1889, but what do you really get?

Watermark does not appear on your downloaded images of course. Your purchase includes five zip files containing 51 SVG images (transparent background). These svg images can be scaled to your desired size (larger or smaller) without any resolution loss using inkscape (a free program you can find online) or any other graphics programs that handle svg files

Who is the intended audience? And what is the purpose?

Great for coloring book pages, custom craft ideas, decorative wall art, scrap-booking, greeting cards, iron-on transfers, etc.

Wednesday, April 6, 2022

557. Charles Shannon's Lithograph 'Winter'

One of the readers of this blog approached me with a question about the paper on which Charles Shannon's 1898 lithograph 'Winter' was printed. 'Winter' shows a woman carrying a bundle of faggots through a doorway and a kneeling man, seen from behind, assembling another bundle. Shannon made only 25 impressions in grey, mostly on Van Gelder paper. A signed copy of this edition is in the collection of the British Museum. 

Charles Shannon, 'Winter' (Lithograph, 1898)
(Image: The British Museum: 1899,0321.9
Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International 
(CC BY-NC-SA 4.0) license)

Especially in the parts of the litho that are left blank (and of course also in the unprinted areas around the lithograph), the chain lines of this paper are clearly visible.

Charles Shannon, 'Winter' (Lithograph, 1898) [detail]
(Image: The British Museum: 1899,0321.9
Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International 
(CC BY-NC-SA 4.0) license)

Our correspondent reported that the paper of his copy of the lithograph did not have chain lines. He knew that the lithograph was also printed as a transfer lithograph in John and Elizabeth Robins Pennell's book, Lithography and Lithographers (1898). These prints were made by the firm of Thomas Way. However, the paper was not in accordance with this edition either. Way printed the lithograph on a smooth, white paper; a  yellowish frame of about 7 mm is clearly visible around the lithograph. The glazed paper sheet in this edition was smaller than the lithograph that our blog friend had acquired.

Charles Shannon, 'Winter' (Lithograph, 1898) [Detail]
Published in Lithography and Lithographers

The image measures 175 x 147 mm, the sheet in Pennell's edition measures 306 x 265 mm. 

However, apart from the ordinary edition a deluxe edition was published on Japanese vellum (a paper that was manufactured to imitate parchment). Only 16 copies of this signed large-paper edition were produced. The sheets in these copies are larger and measure about 343 x 272 mm. The paper has a yellowish colour (no chain lines). 

And these qualities did match the lithograph of our correspondent. Apparently it was a print intended, but unused, for the deluxe edition of Pennell's Lithography and Lithographers

The impressions in the deluxe edition, by the way, are much better and more detailed than those in the regular edition - see, for example, the depiction of the back of the kneeling man.

Charles Shannon, 'Winter' (Lithograph, 1898) [Detail]
Published in the deluxe edition of
Lithography and Lithographers

Charles Shannon, 'Winter' (Lithograph, 1898) [Detail]
Published in the regular edition of Lithography and Lithographers