Charles Haslewood Shannon Biography

Charles Haslewood Shannon




Charles Hazelwood Shannon was born in Sleafrord, Lincolnshire, England on April 26, 1865 and was trained as a wood-engraver at the City and Guilds Technical Art School in Lambeth, London. There he met the painter and designer Charles Ricketts. In 1888 they moved into Whistler’s house, The Vale, in Chelsea. Shannon was particularly concerned with experimenting with lithographic techniques and woodcut illustrations. Influenced by A. H. Mackmurdo and William Morris, he and Ricketts set up a small printing press, producing art journals and books, including their own magazine The Dial and Oscar Wilde’s A House of Pomegranates (1891) and The Sphinx (1894): Wilde called Shannon the 'Orchid' because of his effete and mannered disposition. He also was a collector and bought a lithograph by J.M. Whistler from the Fine Art Society in 1895.

Both Ricketts and Shannon were members of the International Society of Sculptors, Painters and Gravers which elected Whistler its Chairman in February 1898 and its President in April 1898. Shannon painted Ricketts' portrait in this year, Man in the Inverness Cape (National Portrait Gallery, London). The muted tonality owes much to the work of Whistler. Both Ricketts and Shannon were mentioned in an 1892 notebook of Whistler's. Shannon, who designed exotic fans for himself, bought Design for a fan (M.392). Whistler wrote to Lavery, 'I have always liked Shannon very much... I feel most sympathetically towards him - and I dont think it possible that we could have a better man or a nicer fellow with us' (n.d., Tate Gallery archives).

Shannon was elected an A.R.A. in 1911 and R.A. in 1920. With Ricketts, he formed a substantial collection of Egyptian and Classical antiquities, Persian ceramics, Japanese prints, drawings by Titian, Tintoretto and Rembrandt, and works by contemporary artists. The majority of their collection was left to the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge. Shannon became disabled in 1928 after a fall while hanging a picture, and the neurological damage that resulted caused amnesia and ended his career.

Charles Haselwood Shannon died in Kew, England on March 18, 1937.