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John Linnell

1792 - 1882

Saul by John Linnell
 

Saul   1831

  Mezzotint after the painting by both John Varley and John Linnell.
With the artists’ names in the plate.
Ref: Story pp.221 & 243
S 473 x 650 mm; I 384 x 555 mm
£1,800
 
Very rare mezzotint by John Linnell, after the painting made jointly by both John Varley and John Linnell “The Beauty of Israel is slain on the High Places – How are the mighty fallen”.

Saul was one of John Linnell’s first mezzotint engravings. An accomplished engraver who had worked together with William Blake on at least two of his plates, John Linnell had begun etching in 1813 and had been active as a reproductive etcher until around 1820. After that date he began to prefer the techniques of engraving over etching and in 1831 was introduced to the art of mezzotint engraving by a Mr. Egan who laid the mezzotint ground for this plate of Saul. From the moment that he had mastered the process, mezzotint became John Linnell’s favourite method of printmaking. Produced when the enthusiasm for this new process was fresh upon him, John Linnell’s Saul is arguably the finest romantic landscape which he was produce in the mezzotint medium. Story tells us “among his (Linnell’s) many excellent mezzotint engravings are the reproduction of John Varley’s ‘Saul’, the figures of which he (Linnell) had painted for his friend twelve years before…”.

John Linnell had been only a youngster when he first met the great watercolourist John Varley in 1804 and he became Varley’s pupil for one year between 1805 and 1806. It was Varley who had taught John Linnell to “go to nature for everything” and it was he to whom John Linnell felt most indebted as an artist. For his part, John Linnell introduced John Varley to William Blake and in so doing began an association which was to produce its own extraordinary artistic results due to Varley’s mania for astrology and interest in spiritualism.

This original mezzotint engraving is now amongst the very rarest of all of John Linnell’s works. Only three other impressions of this engraving are recorded to have been offered for sale during the last 30 years.

On warm white wove paper with wide margins beyond the image and title on all sides, trimmed approximately on the platemark. This print has required extensive conservation and has numerous repairs – these have been taken into account in the price of this very rare mezzotint engraving.