Linton- Life in the Collections
Shirley Dent & Jason Whittaker:
58) Radical Blake: Influence and Afterlife from 1827.
London - New York 2002
Linton is the key reference of this stimulating history of Blake reception. In a series of astute and entertaining analyses, Shirley Dent and Jason Whitacker come to a similar valuation as Robert F. Gleckner in his Latter day-Blake essay: “In Linton’s career we can trace a developing interest in Blake, not only as an artisan engraver, but also as a political symbolist.” His growing interest and interaction with Blake would “develop throughout the century, from careful copist to innovative facsimilist to creative assimilist, cut-up artist at large.” Although Dent & Wittacker’s survey is much more detailed and substantiated than Gleckner’s, they, too, miss in many cases to evidence the indebtedness of Linton’s poetry (Bob-Thin, Famine or Broadway Ballads) to Blake. Seduced by Blake’s present monumentality and Linton’s use of some of his designs, they present an extremely distorted image of Blake’s influence both on Linton’s writings in particular and on Chartist culture in general.
Much more convincing than their overall assumptions are Dent & Whittacker’s analyses of Linton’s pictorial appropriations: “Linton’s `Blakes´ are not dead but resurrected: they are the `choir invisible´ of hope beyond nation. Blake and Linton take the metaphysical and ontological angst of death and produce symbols of a new world. They turn religious apocalypse into social and political apocalypse. Linton’s use of Blake’s designs in his work creates a continuum of political symbolism, which has specific meaning of the secular, particularly Republican politics of the 1870s. In Linton’s work, the material presence of the book recognises the indivisibility of art from politics.”
Linton´s "Famine"-engraving - Secular Hall pamphlet - Blake´s "Job"