Melton prior Institut

Linton

Linton- Life in the Collections

Anon.:

2) The Palace of John Bull, contrasted with the Poor "House that Jack built"

London 1820

The enormous popularity of Hone & Cruikshank’s Peterloo pamphlet The Political House that Jack built, which advocated suffrage and freedom of the press, had provoked numerous imitations and adversary mimicries. The Linton Archive holds alone six of these, all executed in the rough woodcut manner of the original, and all published in 1820: The Radical House which Jack would build – The Theatrical House that Jack built– The Real or Constitutional House that Jack built – The Financial House that Jack built – The Loyalist’s House that Jack built – The Dorchester Guide or a house that Jack built.

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The most interesting adaption The Palace of John Bull, contrasted with the Poor "House that Jack built" refers to the poor printing technique of the original. The wealthy constitution of loyalist England is represented by its rich reproduction consisting of eight hand-coloured copper engravings. The medial message was clear. It was supposed to decry the prospects of radical reform by paralleling it with the cheap appeal of its propaganda. It thus connected the traditional codifications of plebeian relief printing on the one hand and artistocratic intaglio on the other with a pointed political meaning in this Pre-Chartist campaigning for parliamentary reform. Moreover, woodcut had been promoted much earlier by John Baptist Jackson, the first British exponent of this medium in baroque times and an important figure of reference for Linton, by connecting relief printing in his Essay on the Invention of Engraving and Printing in Chiaro Oscuro (1754) with the virile virtue of boldness, and by setting it against the “effeminate” refinement of copper engraving.

Linton’s allergic reactions to xylographic tendencies of imitating intaglio had these codifications as a backdrop. But quite in contrast to someone like William Blake, who with his mode of relief etching had reversed the “effeminate” intaglio into an earthy kind of cut, Linton’s point of departure was not the rough appeal of ancient woodblock work, but a rather painterly mode of graphic expression, which was more concerned with tonal gradation than with an expressive way of outlining.

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