The Bad Homburg ca. 1896.
Sir William Nicholson (1872-1936).
Colour woodcut from two blocks. 4.7 x 5.2 cm.
Signed with the artist's initials in the block, W.N.
Probably the unique woodblock impression of the design,
also known in a lithographic version, intended as an illustration for
Nicholson's long projected but ultimately unrealised project, The
Book of Titfers. Other subjects were to have included Oscar Wilde's
Billycock, the sealskin fedoras worn by W. B. Yeats and Arthur Symons
during their visit to Sligo and the Aran Islands, and a turban reputedly
sported by Leonard Smithers on the evening when he and Aubrey Beardsley
first sampled haschich at the house of the Parisian writer and journalist,
Gabriel de Lautrec.
Soames's hat, which may actually have been of
a darker shade than that depicted by Nicholson, is in all probability
the same one abandoned by the poet on the night of 2 June 1897, according
to an entry in the Catalogue of Unclaimed Hat-Check Stubs of the
Café Royal. There it is recorded that a short handwritten
note added to the original page by the restaurant's Mâitre d'
some three weeks later reads, somewhat poignantly: Mr Soames has
not been in lately.
This is perhaps the fullest, as well as the
final, contemporary reference to Soames which remains extant.