Melton prior Institut


Linton- Life in the Collections

Alexander Roob

In 1849 Linton moved to the picturesque Lake District. His ramshackle house in Brantwood not only accommodated his large family - the seven children were educated in an anti-authoritarian, Rousseauian manner – but also a number of varying Republican refugees. In 1854 he established his first private press there with the help of a small group of enthusiastic allies. A few month after the death of his second partner Emily Wade in December 1856, he left this residency, partly staying with his new spouse Eliza Lynn in Hastings, but most of the time in London. After having met increasing problems to find work, he emigrated in 1866 to North America. Temporarily, the Brantwood estate had been rented to the Chartist poet Gerald Massey, but finally Linton sold it to John Ruskin in order to finance his new American private press. The famous art historian made extensive alternations, which turned the neat proportions of the feral house into an awe-inspiring manor. The republican mottoes God and the people and Ora e Sempre which had decorated the walls were erased during these renovations. Ruskin had projected that Brantwood should become a museum after his death, a plan that could only be realised as late as in 1951.

This second part of Linton - Life in the collections includes the embodiment of his vision of a direct democracy in conjunction with a nationalization of land and banking system (The English Republic), the related shaping of a national republican myth (The Plaint of Freedom), the development of his influential art of landscape engraving (The English Lakes, The Lake Country), his efforts to edit and translate William Blake´s drawings and relief etchings (The Life of William Blake), the related invention of a special line block-method (Specimens of a New Process Of Engraving for Surface-Printing), the realisation of a noteworthy body of free graphic interpretations of famous paintings (Thirty Pictures by deceased British Artists) and  the publication of his first book of poetry. Claribel and Other Poems was illustrated with a series of powerful vignette engravings. The degree of sensibility and inventiveness, which Linton had achieved here, was never matched again in the history of xylography.