These three cases showcase a group of objects connected to artists Charles Ricketts and Charles Shannon, whose collection of over 1,000 objects was bequeathed to the Fitzwilliam Museum in 1937.
The pair met in 1882 while studying at the South London Technical School of Art. Although homosexuality was illegal at that time, the two men formed a committed and public partnership, amassing an impressive art collection and sharing a life and a home until Ricketts’ death in 1931.
Ricketts painted, sculpted and designed jewellery but is best known for his book illustrations as well as sets and costumes for the stage. Shannon achieved great success with his lithographs and paintings. Both men were elected to the Royal Academy.
The pair formed a huge art collection, which they displayed at their home described by their friend, Oscar Wilde, as ‘the one place in London where you will never be bored’. The collection included Old Master paintings and drawings, Japanese woodcuts and prints, Persian paintings, antiquities from around the ancient Mediterranean and recently made works by Pre-Raphaelite artists.