Wednesday, January 28, 2015

183. A Portfolio of Woodcuts by T. Sturge Moore

The recent issue of the Imaginative Book Illustration Society's Studies in Illustration, No. 58 (Winter 2014) contains an interesting article by Vincent Barlow about the elusive portfolio of woodcuts by Thomas Sturge Moore that was issued as a Vale Publication. For years, no copy of this edition could be located, and even Sturge Moore's widow came to believe that the publication was only announced, and never realized.

Announcement of Sturge Moore's Portfolio of Woodcuts in Notice of the Vale Publications (1896)
A Notice issued by the Vale Press in early 1896 (also advertised in The Studio of April 1896) listed '"A Portfolio of Woodcuts." Metamorphoses of Pan and other original woodcuts by T. Sturge Moore. Four remain at four guineas net.' 

Barlow has located a copy and describes its contents in detail. The portfolio does not mention the names of Ricketts or Shannon, nor the editor, the Vale Publications. Only the title is printed in gold on the spine of the vellum backed grey Ingres paper covered boards (400x317x40 mm).

Thomas Sturge Moore, A Portfolio of Woodcuts (spine) (1896)
Inside are ten mounted engravings, printed in a variety of colours, but mainly green and red. On the inside of the upper cover of the portfolio is attached a sheet of unbleached Arnold hand-made paper giving the title, the subtitle, a list of engravings, and a limitation statement:

Metamorphoses of Pan and other woodcuts by T. STURGE MOORE.
[follows a list of 10 woodcuts, numbered 1-8]

Barlow gives an account of the way the portfolio was described (or not) in earlier articles. He comes to the conclusion that it was published in June 1895, and already sold out in 1898. His contribution on Sturge Moore ends with a detailed list of the publication and the woodcuts in it.

T. Sturge Moore, 'Baby Giants' and 'Childhood'
[woodcuts 7(i) and 7 (ii) in A Portfolio of Woodcuts (1896)]
The numbering of the woodcuts follows the number of the mounts of Ingres paper with rounded corners. Two mounts contain two woodcuts each.
T. Sturge Moore, 'Pan Mountain'
[woodcut 3 in A Portfolio of Woodcuts (1896)]

More images and details on the portfolio and the woodcuts can be found in: Vincent Barlow, 'Metamorphoses of Pan and other woodcuts by T. Sturge Moore', in: Studies in Illustration, No. 58 (Winter 2014), p. 6-13.

Copies of the magazine can be bought online at the website of the Imaginative Book Illustration Society [] for £6. 
I ordered a copy on Sunday and received it today!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

182. Chas. Ricketts: The Puzzle

Art reproductions abound on the Internet. Images of paintings can be ordered as posters, photographs are scaled up to be used as wallpaper, and imitations of paintings are sold by a variety of websites. Recently, I came across a website that sells drawings by Powys Evans (1899-1981), originally published in his book of portraits, Fifty Heads (London, Sheed and Ward, 1931). 

Well, drawings. Not exactly. The drawings are reproduced as... jigsaw puzzles, and one of them is his portrait of Charles Ricketts, advertised as Photo Jigsaw Puzzle of Chas Ricketts (Evans).

Jigsaw Puzzle of Charles Ricketts (Sold by PrintsPrintsPrints)
The price is $34.99 + $5.95 shipping, and for that you get a 'Photo Jigsaw Puzzle' featuring 'a cropped image of Chas Ricketts (Evans) chosen by Mary Evans'. The 'estimated image size' is: 356x254mm. The portrait is a '10x14 Photo Puzzle with 252 pieces'. It comes 'Packed in black cardboard box of dimensions 5 5/8 x 7 5/8 x 1 1/5. Puzzle image 5x7 affixed to box top. Puzzle pieces printed on RA4 paper at 300 dpi.'

The Mary Evans Picture Library is the source for this piece of merchandizing. The puzzle is made by PrintsPrintsPrints, that is to say, How many people would, actually, want a jigsaw puzzle of Charles Ricketts? By the way, no puzzle of Shannon is available.

Ricketts's puzzle is 'in stock' (printed on demand of course). And, no, I did not order a copy.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

181. Théo Van Rysselberghe meets Ricketts and Shannon

The other day, I received an email asking for background information about a card written by Charles Ricketts to the Belgian artist Théo van Rysselberghe (1862-1926).

Théo van Rysselberghe, Self-Portrait (1916)
The correspondence card contains a short message, and is addressed to: 

T. Van Rijsselberghe Esq
c/o Mrs Morrell
1 Craven Street
Charing Cross

The card is postmarked with the date 6 June 1894. Mrs. Morrell was Charlotte Morrell, wife of William Morrell, a 'Private Hotel Keeper'. There were many small and quiet family hotels in the neighbourhood of The Strand.

Charles Ricketts, Autograph Letter to Théo van Rysselberghe, June 1894 (Private Collection)
In May 1894, Van Rysselberghe was in London. At the end of May, Lucien Pissarro wrote to his father Camille: 'Pas étonnant que tu n'aies pas de nouvelles de Rysselbergh[e] il est à Londres' (in reply of a letter of 26 May 1894): 'no wonder you haven't heard from Rysselbergh[e], he is in London'. Camille Pissarro, his wife Julie and their son Félix were planning a trip to Brussels, and on 25 June Théo van Rysselberge would greet them at the train station of the Belgian capital.

Before Van Rysselberghe returned to Belgium, he met Ricketts and Shannon. He was introduced to them by Lucien Pissarro. Contacts between Ricketts and Dutch or Belgian artists had already been established in the previous years. Leo Simons, for example, had been an intermediary between Ricketts, Shannon and the editors of Van Nu en Straks, a Belgian magazine that counted among its collaborators both Ricketts and Van Rysselberghe. The French painter Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec and the Belgian poet Émile Verhaeren paid Ricketts and Shannon a visit in 1894. And Ricketts's books would be exhibited in Brussels by La Libre esthétique in 1894 and 1897.

In May 1894, Van Rysselberghe visited London with his friend Pierre-Marie Olin (1865-1931). In 1887 he painted a portrait of Olin and in 1891 he decorated his book of poems, Légendes puériles. Olin wrote about art and had been the editor of the symbolist magazine La Wallonie (1886-1892). Olin dismissed Lucien Pissarro's paintings as lacking in strength and character, but his opinion of Lucien's wood engravings had been favourable.

Pissarro received them in Epping. He and Van Rysselberghe discussed working with glass, but nothing came of this. 'Ce bon Théo est vraiment bien charmant', wrote Lucien: 'The good Théo really is a charming fellow'.

Lucien accompanied Van Rysselberghe to The Vale to meet Ricketts and Shannon, and apparently Van Rysselberghe asked Pissarro about their furniture. Ricketts wrote to him:

Dear Mr. Van Rijsselberghe
Pissarro tells me you are fascinated by our chairs.

Dining Room, The Vale, around 1890
Paul Delaney described their rooms of this period: 'Furnished simply with scrubbed wood furniture and a table later usually covered with wood-blocks and burins, this was their work-room as well as the place where they received their guests.'

The Parlour, The Vale, around 1889
Another room was discussed by Stephen Calloway: 'In the parlour at the Vale, a new uncluttered and deliberately unpretentious approach is apparent. The chimneypiece, screened with a good piece of eighteenth century needlepoint, is flanked by two plain chests of drawers of the same period and by a pair of simple wooden cottage armchairs of a type costing about five or ten shillings only, when a Morris Sussex chair was not so durable and could not be had for less than seventeen.'

Ricketts's letter is more specific about the chairs:

They are ordinary high-backed kitchen chairs but unvarnished [.] this necessitates their being ordered a few days before wanted [.] they cost 6 shillings & we attained ours at a little shop at the entrance to The Vale itself [.]  The name of the man is Brown.
Yours in haste
C. Ricketts

It is unlikely that Van Rysselberghe ordered new chairs from this shop.

The card testifies Van Rysselberghe's extended stay in London, and his visit to Ricketts. It is delightfully detailed about a minor point, the provenance of Ricketts's and Shannon's cheap furniture in The Vale.

Charles Ricketts, Autograph Letter to Théo van Rysselberghe, June 1894 (Private Collection)
[Thanks are due to the private collector for permission to illustrate Ricketts's letter to Van Rysselberghe.]
[The information about Mrs Morrell was provided by Michael Seeney.]

Stephen Calloway: ‘“Tout pour l’art”. Charles Ricketts, Charles Shannon, and the arrangement of a collection’, in: The Journal of The Decorative Arts Society 1890-1940, Number 8, 1984, p. 21.
Paul Delaney, Charles Ricketts. A Biography. Oxford 1990, p. 40.  
Adrienne et Luc Fontainas, Théo van Rysselberghe. L'ornement du livre. Catalogue raissonné. Antwerpen 1997, p. 54-55.
André Gide et Albert Mockel, Correspondance (
1891-1938). (Ed. Gustave Van Welkenhuyzen). Genève 1975, p. 50.
The Letters of Lucien to Camille Pissarro 1883-1903. Edited by Anne Thorold. Cambridge 1993, p. 363-368, 372, 383-384, 389.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

180. A Bibliography of Charles Ricketts

Shortly, the Paulton Press will publish a simple unillustrated booklet in a limited edition, A Bibliography of Charles Ricketts, listing the essays on typography and art written by Ricketts, including book reviews, prose stories, art books, and letters written to the editors of several newspapers.

'Puvis de Chavannes' (The Dial, No. 1, 1889):
text and wood-engraving by Charles Ricketts
The first descriptions in the bibliography are from 1889:
  • [C. Ricketts], ‘Puvis de Chavannes’, in: The Dial, No. 1 ([August] 1889), p. 1-4. [a]
  • C. Ricketts, ‘A Glimpse of Heaven’, in: The Dial, No. 1 ([August] 1889), p. 19-22. [p]
  • C. Ricketts, ‘The Cup of Happiness’, in: The Dial, No. 1 ([August] 1889), p. 27-33. [p]
  • [Chas. H. Shannon, Cs. Ricketts (the editors?)], ‘Apology’, in: The Dial, No. 1 ([August] 1889), p. 36. [a]

The last items in the bibliography (apart from the posthumous publications) are:
  • Charles Ricketts, ‘Detestable, but a Poet. A Study of Baudelaire’, in: The Observer, 19 July 1931, p. 4. [r]
  • Charles Ricketts, ‘Age-Long Egypt’, in: The Observer, 16 August 1931, p. 4. [r]

Copies will cost €15,00 (including postage). If you order a copy now, you will automatically and without costs receive the first updated edition that appears in the future. Orders can be mailed to: paulton[at]