Linton- Life in the Collections
John Greenleaf Whittier:
4) Snow-Bound. A Winter Idyl.
This publication is the first of a series of representative gift-books with illustrated New England poetry, in which Linton was involved as an engraver and later also as an illustrator. These gift-books or editions de luxe in Linton’s opinion were not illustrated “because the text required it, but merely for the sake of pseudo-adornment and embellishing: a trade endeavour to produce something more attractive than ordinary.” (The History of Wood Engraving in America)
In this case he had cooperated with A.V. Anthony, whom he called “a brotherly brother engraver.” Anthony was more than an engraver buddy. As the director of the engraving department of the important publishing firm James R. Osgood & Co, which later merged into Houghton, Osgood and Company, he held a position that was characterized by Max Osborn as being “the true founder of the American school of xylography.”
In Linton’s view, Snow-Bound was Whittier’s “most perfect” poem and he held the illustrated edition for being “the daintiest gift-book of them all, - some forty small drawings by H. Fenn, his early careful work, a few engraved by me, but most by Anthony and of his best, - subjects and drawing well suited to his graver, - honest while refined.” The illustrations of rural sceneries by Harry Fenn consort perfectly with this prime example of romantic fireside-poetry, which had been inspired by the likes of Robert Burns and William Wordsworth. Fenn was a British artist, who had emigrated a year before Linton. He had worked for Harper’s Weekly and became popular in the seventies with his picturesque views of American landscapes. Some of the engravings have this kind of “homely” Bewick-touch, which Linton later criticized in his theories on wood engraving.