Charles Ricketts

Don Juan

c.1911

Medium
Oil paint on canvas
Dimensions
Support: 1162 x 959 mm
frame: 1515 x 1323 x 75 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Presented by Sir Otto Beit 1917
Reference
N03221

Display caption

Ricketts painted a number of pictures inspired by the story of Don Juan based on Mozart’s opera, Bernard Shaw’s play Don Juan in Hell and the epic poem by Byron.

Driven by his passions, Don Juan was described by Ricketts as ‘a profoundly significant figure, a kind of saint. Derider of all attempts to justify God’s way to man, the Don accepted the baseness of men, women, and institutions, and glorified in the power it gave him’.

Gallery label, February 2004

Catalogue entry

N03221 DON JUAN c. 1911

Inscr. ‘CR’ in monogram b.r.
Canvas, 45 1/2×37 5/8 (116×96).
Presented by Sir Otto Beit 1917.
Coll: Purchased by Sir Otto Beit from the artist for presentation to the Tate Gallery 1917.
Lit: Theodore Galerien, ‘The Renaissance of the Tate Gallery’ in Studio, LXXXII, 1921, p.191, repr. p.195 (in colour); Ricketts, 1939, p.280.
Repr: Tate Gallery Illustrations, 1928, pl.110.

Ricketts painted a number of pictures from c. 1911 inspired by the story of Don Juan, based mainly on Mozart's opera, but also partly on Shaw's play Don Juan in Hell and the poem by Byron. In a letter to Mrs Muriel Lee Matthews of 1918 (Ricketts, 1939, p.296) he refers to his ‘Death of Don Giovanni’ and says: ‘The curtain represents the rush of the wood instruments in the Overture.’ His other works on the theme of Don Juan include: ‘Don Juan challenging the Commander’ (his R.A. Diploma work); ‘Don Juan and the Statue’ (exhibited at the International Society, May 1918 (22), and reproduced by Sturge Moore, 1933, pl.15); and two versions each of ‘The Death of Don Juan’ and ‘Don Juan in Hell’. The significance of the Don Juan story was further elaborated by the artist in his book Beyond the Threshold, 1929, privately printed under the pseudonym of Jean Paul Raymond.

Published in:
Mary Chamot, Dennis Farr and Martin Butlin, The Modern British Paintings, Drawings and Sculpture, London 1964, II