Wednesday, June 26, 2024

673. A Pre-Raphaelite Exhibition in Forli

Although I have been in contact with one of the curators of an exhibition in Forli (Italy), I have missed news about the opening and it turns out that this was back in February: the exhibition ends on 30 June!

'Preraffaelliti: Rinacsimento Moderno'
[Website of the Comune di Forli (accessed 25 June 2024)]

The show in the San Domenico Museum is called: 'Preraffaelliti. Rinascimento Moderno' (see the museum's website) and contains some works about and by Ricketts and Shannon.

Curated by Francesco Parisi, Liz Prettejohn and Peter Trippi (with Gianfranco Brunelli as the general director), there are 300 paintings, sculptures, drawings, prints, photographs, furniture, ceramics, glass and metal works, textiles, medals, illustrated books, manuscripts and jewellery, including works by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Ford Madox Brown, Frederic Leighton, Frank Dicksee, Evelyn De Morgan, and Edward Burne Jones. The intention of the exhibition is to reconstruct 'the profound impact of historical Italian art on the British Pre-Raphaelite movement between the 1840s and the 1920s'. This information, however, is based on a preview on the website 'Finestre sull'Arte' (7 August 2023) - I have ordered but not yet seen the catalogue. See here for a link to a review of the show by Dennis T. Lanigan (on The Victorian Web).

Portraits of Ricketts and Shannon by Alphonse Legros (both from the Fitzwilliam Museum) are accompanied by some of their paintings, including Ricketts's 'The Deposition' (from the Bradford museum) and Shannon's 'Reaper and Sower' (see blog 639 about this theme).

Charles Ricketts, 'The Deposition'
[Bradford Art Galleries and Museums]

Postcript, 26 June 2026 
Simon Wartnaby was so kind to send me a link to an interview with two of the three curators, available on YouTube: Pre-Raphaelites: A Modern renaissance'. Ricketts and Shannon are mentioned between 54.00 and 56.00.

Wednesday, June 19, 2024

672. Two Portrait Drawings by Shannon

A section in Roseberys auction of 11 June - Modern British & 20th Century Art - contained a lot with two drawings by Charles Shannon, both dated 1917: a portrait of a woman and a man, probably related, but not identified.  

Charles Shannon, portrait of a woman (1917)

The woman wears a necklace with a pendant. The portrait, signed with initials and dated 1917 is executed in chalk, and measures 32 by 22 cm.

The portrait of the man is identically executed, signed and dated, and somewhat larger,  measuring 33 by 22 cm.

Price of the drawings was £577.

Wednesday, June 12, 2024

671. Is This a Shannon Painting?

On 30 May last, a painting attributed to Charles Shannon was auctioned at Cuttlestones. It was called ‘A Gentle Walk’ and described as: 

CHARLES HAZLEWOOD SHANNON (1863-1937). A young girl and her grandfather taking a walk in an ornamental garden with dog following behind 'A Gentle Walk', see verso, signed with monogram lower right, oil on canvas (relined), framed, 91 x 69 cm

CS, 'A Gentle Walk' (oil, undated)

The estimate was £300-500, the closing bid was £950. 

In his early days, Shannon's style was not fixed, and all kinds of subjects that he would not paint later passed by, from landscapes to religious scenes.

Monogram CS, 'A Gentle Walk' (oil, undated) (detail)

Personally, I do not find this attribution to Shannon convincing. The monogram in the lower right hand corner is CS, but Shannon in his earlier days actually always used three letters: CHS. I think the work is by an entirely different painter.

Wednesday, June 5, 2024

670. Some of Ricketts's Binding Tools

Throughout the 1980s, numerous exceptional pieces related to the Vale Press and Charles Ricketts were offered through antiquarian booksellers Warrack & Perkins. Some of these can no longer be traced. Among these is a copy of the bibliography of the Vale Press, published by Ricketts after the closure of the firm of Hacon & Ricketts.

In Catalogue Forty-Four, Autumn Stock Catalogue (Autumn 1982) a copy of the bibliography from the collection of Harold Wilmerding Bell was described, and priced at £400. Bound in brown levant morocco gilt, by Riviere, it had Bell's arms gilt-stamped on both covers. It contained:

a sheet of india ink and white bodycolour designs by Ricketts for binding ornaments, each annotated by Ricketts and with directions to the cutter. Inscribed on the mount: 'Given me by Charles Ricketts 7 x 28 H W Bell (Designs for binding tools)'

At the time it remained unsold, and was offered again in a later catalogue, Illustrated Books, Prints and Posters 1880-1914, Catalogue 56 (1985) for £375.

Sybil Pye, binding for G.D. Hibson, Thirty Bindings (1926)

Of course, it is not the Bell copy of the bibliography that interests me, but the inserted sheet with designs of some binding tools with comments by Ricketts. The sheet turned up on 21 March 2005 at a Christie's auction in New York (the first part of the Breslauer collection), but by then it was no longer in a copy of the bibliography, but in an edition bound by Sybil Pye: G.D. Hobson's Thirty Bindings, selected from the First Edition Club's seventh exhibition, held at 25 Park Lane, by permission of Sir Philip Sassoon, Bart (London: The First Edition Club, 1926). Bound in 1944, the volume's current location is not given in Marianne Tidcombe's Women Bookbinders.

The sheet with Ricketts's designs is now probably to be found in a private collection.

A little more information can be gleaned from the first catalogue in which Warrack & Perkins offered the sheet of designs. Indeed, Catalogue Forty-Four has a cover on which one of the binding tools is depicted eighteen times, while inside are other tools which we can compare with the tools Pye received from Ricketts (illustrated in Tidcombe's book, p. 207).

Warrack & Perkins, Catalogue Forty-Four, Autumn Stock Catalogue (Autumn 1982): cover (detail)

The design repeated on the cover was never used by Ricketts and perhaps the tool was never made; in any case, it is not among the impressions of the tools Ricketts gave to Pye.

Charles Ricketts, design for a binding tool
(from Warrack & Perkins, Catalogue Forty-Four,
Autumn Stock Catalogue,
 Autumn 1982)

Two other designs were executed and among the Pye tools impressions.

Charles Ricketts, design for a binding tool
(from Warrack & Perkins, Catalogue Forty-Four,
Autumn Stock Catalogue,
 Autumn 1982, p. 26)

The design illustrated (twice) on page 26 of the catalogue is listed by Tidcombe as tool no. J2B.

Charles Ricketts, design for a binding tool
(from Warrack & Perkins, Catalogue Forty-Four,
Autumn Stock Catalogue,
 Autumn 1982, p. 12)

Another design for a binding tool was illustrated (twice) on page 12 of the Warrack & Perkins catalogue. This one is No. J5A in Tidcombe's Women Bookbinders.

In terms of style, the first design, the previously unknown heart-shaped design, belongs to the devices Ricketts designed for the binding of Lord de Tabley's Poems Dramatic & Lyrical (March 1893).