Charles Shannon

The Bath of Venus

1898–1904

Medium
Oil paint on canvas
Dimensions
Support: 1460 x 978 mm
frame: 1804 x 1316 x 70 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Presented by Francis Howard 1940
Reference
N05160

Display caption

Shannon frequently painted the female nude and often depicted his models in water. The title deliberately takes the subject out of the present and evokes a comparison with the old masters, in this case particularly with Titian, and with the Roman sculpture that had been taken as an ideal by Titian. This Venus is posed and modelled like sculpture, but has warm colouring and a rich background of jewels and drapery. There was a revival of interest in Titian at the end of the century, inspired by the example of G.F. Watts.
Shannon was also a printmaker and designer, and with his friend Charles Ricketts founded the art magazine 'The Dial', and published art and literature at 'The Vale Press' in Chelsea.

Gallery label, August 2004

Catalogue entry

N05160 THE BATH OF VENUS 1898–1904

Inscr. ‘C. H. Shannon. 1898–1904.’ b.r.
Canvas, 57 1/2×38 1/2 (146×97·5).
Presented by Francis Howard 1940.
Coll: Viscount and Viscountess Northcliffe, Red Cross Sale, Christie's, 13 April 1918 (894), bt. Sir Jeremiah Colman, Bt.; sold Colman, Red Cross Sale, Christie's, 12 July 1940 (919), bt. Francis Howard.
Exh: Irish Artists, Guildhall, 1904 (13), as ‘The Toilet of Venus’, lent by the artist.
Lit: T. Sturge Moore and Cecil Lewis (ed.), Self-Portrait: taken from the Letters & Journals of Charles Ricketts, R.A., 1939, p.292.
Repr: E. B. G[eorge], Charles Shannon, 1924, pl.8.

The title of this picture was originally ‘The Green Marble Bath’, according to Charles Ricketts in a letter to Thomas Lowinsky, 15 April 1918, published in Moore and Lewis (op. cit.). Three studies for N05160, either pastels or drawings, were exhibited at the Dutch Gallery, 1901 (15, 25 and 41), and three at the Guildhall, 1904 (201, 203 and 206, media not specified).

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