A lithographer and painter, Charles Shannon is perhaps best remembered for his artistic partnership with Charles de Sousy Ricketts (1866-1931) with whom he shared a deep interest in literature, the Pre-Raphaelites, and French symbolism. They were part of the literary and artistic set living in Chelsea in the last decades of the 19th century and William Rothenstein commented of their partnership that it 'seemed perfect; each set off the other in looks as in mind.' Together they collaborated on the design and illustration for Oscar Wilde's books, and wood-engravings for editions of Daphnis and Chloe (1893) and Hero and Leander (1894). The pair also formed one of the most magnificent collections of Old Master drawings and paintings, Egyptian and Greek antiquities, Japanese woodblock prints and Persian miniatures. When Shannon died in 1937, the superb Ricketts and Shannon Collection entered the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge by bequest. Amongst the bequest is a self-portrait by Shannon, dated 1917.
The first owner of this picture was Joseph William Gleeson White, the art critic and founder of The Studio magazine.