Charles Haslewood Shannon R.A., Sea nymph in a Grotto
This fascinating painting captures our imagination for many reasons. In spite of the classical pose, the subject has the expression of a someonewho has been asked to take off her clothes stand in cold water - a far cry from a 'sea nymph'! The work fits into the genre and style of the pre-Raphalites, looking back to the Renaissance in terms of colour, texture and theme.
It is the work of Charles Haslewood Shannon (1863-1937), an English artist best known for his portraits and lithographs, some of which are in the National Portrait Gallery, London. During his life he amassed, along with his partner Charles Ricketts, a large collection of old master paintings and drawings, now part of the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge. As partners in life and work, Shannon and Ricketts collaborated on the design and illustration of many of Oscar Wilde's books. With a relationship spanning over fifty years, they had to navigate a world in which their friend Oscar Wilde was imprisoned for his sexuality. Important figures in the London art world, they were part of the 'set' that included Oscar Wilde, George Bernard Shaw, W.B. Yeats, Max Beerbohm and William Rothenstein.
Shannon's work is in numerous collections, including the Tate Gallery, National Portrait Gallery London, Walker Gallery LIverpool, Municipal Gallery Dublin, the MET in New York and many others. Given that Oscar Wilde's family home is literally a stone's throw from our Clare Street shop, as well as George Bernard Shaw's association with our neighbour, the National Gallery of Ireland - as well as the rich literary history of Greene's bookshop as a haunt for these people - we feel that Shannon's painting is perfectly suited to our Clare Street location.
Works by Charles Shannon and Charles Ricketts were part of a recent show in the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool: Pride and Prejudice. As artists, Shannon and Ricketts are now celebtrated and regarded as LBGT+ pioneers. We suggest you read more here on the Liverpool Museums website or at this link on the National Portrait Gallery.
Oil on canvas, 92 x 71cm, signed with initials lower right