Wednesday, September 28, 2022

582. An Early Portrait of Charles Ricketts by Charles Shannon? (Continued)

Following the blog about an early portrait of Charles Ricketts by Charles Shannon - see blog 578. An Early Portrait of Charles Ricketts by Charles Shannon? - Anna Gruetzner Robins wrote to me that she also does not think that portrait could have been painted at Kennington Road, and that Brompton is more plausible: 'I feel fairly certain that it was painted at 12 A Edith Grove', mainly because ,'the surround looks Victorian.' 

12, Edith Grove, Brompton (in later years)

Other issues I touched on in the blog can also be complemented, albeit with little conclusive evidence. 

The catalogue Semi-Detached. Pictures of People and Places, the 1984 exhibition, indeed lists the painting, as number 38: 'Portrait of Charles Ricketts pre-1900 | oil on canvas 41.4 x 48.9 | private collection'. The label mentioned as owners 'Vint Hill and Killock of Bradford, but in the list of lenders their name is anonymised as 'a private collection'. According to the catalogue, this was the only painting from a private collection; otherwise, one work was made available by an artist and all other works came from museum collections.

About collector B.W.T. Vint (1882-1959), Anna Gruetzner Robins wrote that he was a 'big collector who left part of his collection to Bradford Art Gallery, the rest went to his son who kept it in a store near Heathrow airport so I expect that is where the picture came from.

Anna additionally discovered that the painting was not only owned by Gleeson White in the years up to his death in 1898, but that Shannon subsequently owned it. Indeed, it came back on the market after his own death in 1937. It was described in the auction catalogue Catalogue of Drawings and Paintings comprising […] Paintings by C.H. Shannon, R.A. Esq. Sold by Order of the Executors […]. London, Sotheby & Co., 29 March 1939, p. 18, no. 113.

Catalogue Sotheby & Co., 29 March 1939: description of 
'Interior of a room, with a man seated at a table'

I think Shannon possibly bought it back after Gleeson White's death in an attempt to help the widow who was left penniless. It was listed as number 113: 'Interior of a Room with a man seated at a Table'. The catalogue gives no title, only a description and leaves open who the person portrayed is. However, the provenance Gleeson White is given here.

Wednesday, September 21, 2022

581. A Sketch by Charles Shannon (continued)

After the publication of last week's blog, 'A Sketch by Charles Shannon', the new owner of Shannon's drawing contacted me. Thanks for that, Michael Seeney, and congratulations.

He provided additional information about the condition of the drawing and sent an image of the back of the frame with the gallery's label that unfortunately gives little information: no year or catalogue number, or previous owner, but only the name and years of the maker and the address of the gallery.

Charles Shannon, sketch of a woman brushing her hair (undated)
[Collection Michael Seeney]

The Ruskin Gallery Ltd. was located in 11 Chapel Street, Stratford-on-Avon [for an image of the building see British Listed Buildings], and definitely still active in the 1960s.

Seeney's account of the condition is as follows:

"I took the picture out of the frame and the sheet is unfortunately laid down on backing board; there is no signature but the right hand long edge of the sheet is perforated, I assume from being detached from a sketch book. The paper is very thin, but without being able to lift it from the backing means I can give no more information."

Wednesday, September 14, 2022

580. A Sketch by Charles Shannon

Last Monday, in the Gorringe's Weekly Antiques Sale, a not very large and apparently unsigned or dated sketch by Charles Shannon was sold. 

Charles Shannon, sketch of a woman brushing her hair (undated)

The image, rather vague, shows a woman combing her hair. It is a pencil sketch on buff paper, 24 x 17 cm. The attribution to Shannon was supported by the Ruskin Gallery label on the reverse.

It is a theme that Shannon used frequently, for example in two lithographs from 1896 ('The Hand-Mirror') and 1897 ('The Dressing-Room').

Wednesday, September 7, 2022

579. Black and White Stall in 1892

For the first issues of the weekly Black and White a masthead (or nameplate in American English) was designed by Charles Ricketts in 1891. Due to the complexity of the drawing, in which the title almost seemed to be hidden, it was only used for a short time. 

Charles Ricketts, masthead for Black and White, 1891

Of course, the title had to be immediately legible and recognisable, even from a distance, in order to speed up the sale of individual issues. There were probably complaints about Ricketts's masthead, and a more straightforward (anonymous) drawing was made. [Read about this masthead and its replacement in blog 45: Lux, Ars, Spes, and Night.] 

Black and White was an expensive production and of course had to sell well, targeting an international audience, or at least British citizens visiting other countries. It was on sale at Neal's English Library in Paris, at Saarbach's American Exchange in Mainz, and could be bought in the USA, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. 

However, it is quite possible that Ricketts had already drawn other advertising material for the weekly magazine before his masthead was rejected for prolonged use. The issue of 23 April 1892 includes an image of a sales booth at Venice, London, Olympia, that seems to confirm this.

'Black and White' stall at Venice in London, Olympia
Black and White, 23 April 1892, p. 543

'Venice in London' was a spectacular indoor aquatic show at Olympia opened on 26 December 1891, and attracting huge crowds for more than three years. 

Venice in London, souvenir programme 1891-1892
[Collection V&A, London]

There were canals and buildings that represented the Rialto Bridge, shops, glass-blowing manufactories, Venetian pleasure gardens, thirty specially made (shorter) gondolas, serenades, concerts, and a 'Grand Aquatic Carnival Ballet' with a thousand dancers. A 'Majestic Aquatic Pageant' was presented four times a day. [Read V&A curator Cathy Haill's blog about the event.]

The organisers needed £60,000 for this spectacle and advertising revenue was more than welcome. This was the ideal place to attract more customers for any product, and Black and White magazine must have paid a nice sum of money to set up a sales stall there.

'Black and White' stall at Venice in London, Olympia (detail)
Black and White, 23 April 1892, p. 543

A detail of the image of this stall shows a saleswoman with some bound volumes of the weekly magazine. The publisher sold cloth covers for bound sets (Volume I and II, at the time) for which a frontispiece, title page and index were supplied free of charge. On the left, a prospective buyer is leafing through a bound volume. But what I am interested in now is the front of the stall with a shield that contains text: '4 Weekly ILLUSTRATED RECORD & REVIEW'. 

The lettering with the long tail of the 'R' for record and a similar but different tail of the 'R' for review, but especially the idiosyncratic shape of the letter 'C' after which the letter o is drawn as an afterthought, as well as the slightly to the left tilted ampersand look very much like Ricketts lettering in those years.