II. Mr. C. H. Shannon and Mr. Rothenstein (Book Review)
This is a small exhibition of drawings and lithographs at the Dutch Gallery, 14 Brook Street, New Bond Street. The name of Mr. Charles Shannon is probably unfamiliar to most readers, and there can be no greater pleasure for a critic than to commend to their attention so unmistakeable an artistic talent. It may be remembered that a short time back an illustrated edition of Daphnis and Chloe was reviewed in this journal. The woodcuts in that book were designed and executed by Mr. Charles Ricketts and Mr. Charles Shannon. The same two artists co-operated in the Dial, a periodical also referred to in that notice. In other periodicals some of Mr. Shannon’s lithographs have appeared; but the present exhibition will give a much wider and greater idea of his powers than it has been hitherto possible to form. The work throughout is intensely poetic; it is born of feeling for the things represented. But it is not feeling that ends in an impotent diagram; it is feeling by way of vision that inspires a picture. Look at so simple a subject as the lithograph called Erinnerung. A man plays the ‘cello, seated in a room. Behind him is the fireplace; running out of the picture a table on which are a pot of flowers and a cat; beyond, various other furniture is indicated. And these are not stated as by the art student, who says, ‘How am I to copy a table, or a fireplace, or a ‘cello?’ but implicated in the very rendering is the delighted action of the eye, pausing, passing, choosing, stopping a moment in a dazzling light, and returning to linger with pleasure on this and the other form. No tedious making out, but a mood like that of the memory struck out in the music played. Over everything in these lithographs is the same mood of affectionate brooding and recollection. Women lying on the floor or on the grass, so that the ground is paved with their outspread dresses—apple-trees making a fretwork and checquer overhead or forming up into avenues of architecture—the sea ruffled by the wind—frolics of innumerable children—the hint of music—these images come together into dream after dream. You feel that the figures grow out of the picture, out of the dream; they are not planted and posed and glued uneasily together. And the studies are made, each under some preconceived idea or surprise of graceful gesture; they are not exercises upon the casual pose of a model. The lithographs are as remarkable technically as they are in conception and design. The resources of black and of white line are played upon skilfully, and the whole is kept within the limits of force that, in the lithograph, are so easily exhausted. It will be surprising if these drawings, full as they are of charm and style, do not meet with the admiration they deserve; and even with the purchasers, for their cost is trifling.
Mr. Rothenstein, the other exhibitor, has already made himself known in London at the exhibitions of the New English Art Club. His talent is of a different kind from Mr. Shannon’s, and lies not in suffusing things with the mood of a dream, but in noting with great acumen the lines of character in a face and figure. Some of the lithographs shown are numbers from a publication representing well- known Oxford characters. They range from studies of Professor Max Müller and Mr. Robinson Ellis, both characteristic, to the athletes of the moment. Another series is to illustrate a translation of the Journal des Goncourt. The head of the surviving brother is prettily expressed. Others, like the Paul Verlaine and the Alphonse Daudet, convey a sense of life a little at the expense of style, which is more apparent in the slighter sketches. One or two of these, like the F. Colefax, are very good indeed. Altogether, the Exhibition is of great interest and promise. D. S. M.
“II. Mr. C. H. Shannon and Mr. Rothenstein (Book Review).” Rev. of The Dial, The Saturday Review, vol. 72, no. 3439, 26 May 1894, p. 72. Yellow Nineties 2.0, edited by Lorraine Janzen Kooistra, Ryerson University Centre for Digital Humanities, 2020. https://www.1890s.ca/dial-review-the-spectator-may-1894/