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Charles Haslewood Shannon

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Charles Haslewood Shannon

by Charles Haslewood Shannon
oil on canvas, 1897
37 1/8 in. x 38 7/8 in. (942 mm x 989 mm)
Given by the Art Fund, 1942
Primary Collection
NPG 3107


The use of a wide flat stepped reverse-sectio…

Sitterback to top

Artistback to top

Related worksback to top

  • NPG 3106: Charles de Sousy Ricketts (companion portrait)

Linked publicationsback to top

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  • Rogers, Malcolm, Master Drawings from the National Portrait Gallery, 1993 (accompanying the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery from 5 August to 23 October 1994), p. 142
  • Saumarez Smith, Charles, The National Portrait Gallery: An Illustrated Guide, 2000, p. 164
  • Saumarez Smith, Charles, The National Portrait Gallery, 1997, p. 164 Read entry

    Charles Shannon is best known now as one half of an artistic friendship and partnership with Charles Ricketts. The son of a clergyman, he was educated at St John's School, Leatherhead, and then went to art school in Lambeth, where he met Ricketts. According to William Rothenstein, 'Shannon was as quiet and inarticulate as Ricketts was restless and eloquent. He had a ruddy boyish face, like a countryman's, with blue eyes and fair lashes; he reminded me of the shepherd in Rosetti's Found. Oscar Wilde said that Ricketts was like an orchid, and Shannon like a marigold.' He was also, as is evident from this self-portrait, a fine artist, painting in a style clearly influenced by Whistler, but one that also demonstrates the fact that both Ricketts and Shannon were deeply knowledgeable about the history of painting, particularly of the High Renaissance.

  • Saywell, David; Simon, Jacob, Complete Illustrated Catalogue, 2004, p. 558
  • Simon, Jacob, The Art of the Picture Frame: Artists, Patrons and the Framing of Portraits in Britain, 1997 (accompanying the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery from 8 November 1996 - 9 February 1997), p. 76, 182 Read entry

    Gilt oak, reverse section, mitred and lap jointed, the gilding directly onto oak prepared with a warm-toned size, later sight fillet. 5 3⁄ 4 inches wide.

    This self-portrait of the painter and lithographer, Charles Haslewood Shannon, and the portrait of his lifelong companion, Charles Ricketts, painted by Shannon a year later in 1898, have matching frames, albeit of differing construction. In his diary for 1898, the earliest of his diaries to survive, Shannon noted such events as the arrival of a frame at his studio, putting portraits into their frames, and taking drawings 'round to the framer'.1 At this time he was still living in Chelsea, and he may have used a local framemaking firm such as Chapman Bros (see NPG 1991). The use of a wide flat stepped reverse-section frame is characteristic of Shannon's frames of the late 1890s and early 1900s, although the precise profile occasionally varied from frame to frame. Later in life he used a much richer, more traditional Bolection leaf frame in compo, a revival of a late seventeenth-century fashion (see for example NPG 15).

    1 British Library, Add. MS. 58,110.

Events of 1897back to top

Current affairs

Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee is marked by a series of celebratory events, and attended by eleven colonial prime ministers following the Colonial Secretary Joseph Chamberlain's proposal that the Jubilee be made a festival of the British Empire.
The Workmen's Compensation Act gives workmen a right to a limited compensation in every case of injury by accident arising from the course of employment; it is a landmark piece of legislation in employment law.

Art and science

Bram Stoker's Dracula is first published.
Henry Tate of the Tate and Lyle sugar company donates his art collection to the nation, buying land and building a gallery space for it (now Tate Britain).
Physician and psychologist Havelock Ellis publishes the first volume of his Studies in the Psychology of Sex, and the English physicist John Thompson discovers the existence of the electron.


The burning of Benin city by Britain takes place, known also as the Punitive Exhibition of 1897. The excursion, led by Admiral Sir Harry Rawson, was a response to an attack by Benin warriors on a British delegation sent to settle a dispute over customs duties collected by British traders. During the expedition the British Admiralty destroyed much of the city's treasured art, including the Benin Bronzes, auctioning off the rest as war booty to recoup costs.

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