Charles Ricketts was born in Geneva, Switzerland and was brought up in France and Italy. Following his parents’ death he was apprenticed to the wood engraver Charles Roberts at the City and Guilds Technical Art School, London. It was here that he met his life-long friend and collaborator, Charles Shannon. In 1898 they moved into Whistler’s former house, The Vale, in Chelsea, which provided the name for their private press. The Vale Press was their greatest achievement, both an artistic and financial success. Shannon worked primarily as a painter while Ricketts was active as a designer of everything from jewellery to stage sets and costumes, which included the first performances of Oscar Wilde’s Salome. Ricketts was influential as an art advisor, notably to the National Gallery of Canada ( The celebrated collection the two men put together was bequeathed to the British Museum ( in London and the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge ( His work showed the influence of Symbolism and in subject matter the tragic and dramatic.

Out of the Wood British Woodcuts and Wood Engravings 1890-1945, The British Council 1991