MOORE, THOMAS STURGE (1870-1944)
PORTRAIT BY CHARLES SHANNON R.A., A.R.E., R.P. (1863-1937), oil on canvas, half length, size of image. 29 ½ x 30 ¾ inches (75 x 67 cm), original matt gold frame, overall size 41 x 42 inches (104 x 107 cm), [c. 1897]
This fine portrait, also known as The Man with a Yellow Glove, was awarded a gold medal at the Munich International Exhibition in 1897, an occasion when a picture by Burne-Jones was similarly honoured. Shannon wrote of the portrait in his diary: 'Found great difficulty, finally despaired and turned it upside down.' When it returned from Munich in the New Year, he added 'rather too black, seems darker than when it went. This is the picture that ravished old Legros so much. An admirable portrait of Moore as he will be next year.'
THIS PORTRAIT HAS ITS COMPANION PIECE ON PERMANENT DISPLAY IN THE NATIONAL PORTRAIT GALLERY: Shannon's portrait of Charles Ricketts, The Man in the Inverness Coat, 1898. Shannon's portraits give the impression of 'notable distinction', 'of a sombre and muted richness with a mood of introspective remoteness'. Entirely self-taught, his greatest influences were Titian, Watts and Puvis de Chavannes. Shannon's Man in the Inverness Coat is on permanent display in the National Portrait Gallery.
Sturge Moore met Shannon when he joined Croydon Art School in 1885 where the latter was an instructor. Two years later Shannon persuaded him to transfer to Lambeth Art School, to become the pupil in engraving of Charles Ricketts. He soon became a 'Valeist', renting rooms in their house (formerly owned and decorated by Whistler) and thereafter regularly published in their journal The Dial and later contributed to the productions of the Vale and Eragny Presses, including works of his own composition and editing. He was also afforded an entrée into the society of such as Beerbohm, Conder, Lucien Pissarro and Oscar Wilde. In short, they gave him one of the finest opportunities ever afforded any man of being educated and absorbed in the arts. He became their closest associate and later their faithful apologist, was a model in Shannon's pictures, and acted as a safety-valve between his aesthetic landlords, helping Shannon print his lithographs and playing table-tennis with him. They hoped to train him 'to be a sort of Ruskin to them' and Shannon endeavoured in vain to make Sturge Moore a painter; as the latter recorded forty years later: 'Ricketts might make a painter of Holmes, but Shannon failed to make one of me.' He was Ricketts's literary executor.
PROVENANCE AND EXHIBITION: Munich International Exhibition, 1897; Colin Franklin.
REFERENCES: Sylvia Legge, Affectionate Cousins: T. Sturge Moore and Maria Appia, 1980; F.L. Gwynn, Sturge Moore and the Life of Art, 1952; Charles Shannon, Contemporary British Artists series, 1924; J.G.P. Delaney, Charles Ricketts: A Biography, 1990; The Last Romantics: The Romantic Tradition in British Art; Burne-Jones to Stanley Spencer, edited by John Christian, 1989, where Legros's admiration of this portrait is noted.