Ricketts’s drawings, published and unpublished


[Above] John Byrne Leicester Warren, Baron de Tabley (1835-1895), Poems dramatic and lyrical; with illustrations by C. S. Ricketts (London: E. Mathews and John Lane ; New York : Macmillan and company, 1893). ExC J. Harlin O’Connell Collection 3713.1.1893. “This edition is limited to six hundred copies.”

[Above] Charles Ricketts (1866-1931), Nimrod, 1893. Pen and ink drawing for John Byrne Leicester Warren, Baron de Tabley (1835-1895), Poems dramatic and lyrical; with illustrations by C. S. Ricketts (London: E. Mathews and John Lane ; New York: Macmillan and company, 1893). Graphic Arts Collection GA 2006.02078

[Below] Oscar Wilde (1854-1900), The Sphinx; with decorations by Charles Ricketts (London: E. Mathews and J. Lane, 1894). Rare Books 3989.5.386.11. “Limited for England to 200 copies.”

[Below] Charles Ricketts (1866-1931), The Sphinx, 1916. Pen and colored inks drawing, not included in Oscar Wilde (1854-1900), The Sphinx (London: E. Mathews and J. Lane, 1894). Graphic Arts Collection GA 2006.02079. The genesis of this drawing is not known. There was no proposed 1916 edition of the Wilde book.

Charles Ricketts has been called the quintessence of the nineties. In his life as much as his work, he embodied not merely an “aesthetic” devotion to art and beauty but also many of the fin de siècle’s finest creative energies. …In London, the writers Oscar Wilde, Michael Field, John Gray, Thomas Hardy, W. B. Yeats and Thomas Sturge-Moore were all eager for Ricketts to decorate their books or design stagings for their plays.

Wilde especially was proud of Ricketts’s involvement in his own work: he once called Ricketts “the subtle and fantastic decorator” of his books. In some respects, Ricketts was Wilde’s collaborator or kindred spirit. His sympathies with Wilde were profound. His designs for Wilde’s The Sphinx mark one of the high points, if not the high point, of late-Victorian book design.”

–selection by Nicholas Frankel, Associate Professor of English at Virginia Commonwealth University, editor of Ricketts’s The Sphinx and author of Oscar Wilde’s Decorated Books and Masking The Text: Essays on Literature and Mediation in the 1890s. http://www.1890s.ca/PDFs/ricketts_bio.pdf


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