Melton prior Institut


Linton- Life in the Collections

Thomas Bewick:

8) The Fables of Aesop.

Newcastle 1818 / 1823

The much praised second edition.

Although Linton himself is often counted among the adherents of the Bewick –School, he did not think highly of the capabilities of the popular engraver from Newcastle and was vehemently opposed to his canonisation. Instead, he admired Bewick’s disciples Luke Clennell, Charlton Nesbit, and, with some minor flaws, also John Thompson. Much more than the master himself, these members of Bewick’s workshop represented to him “the morning and the full-noon splendour of the art of Wood Engraving.” (Masters of Wood Engraving)

To him, this second illustrated version of Aesop´s fables – a first one had been produced by Bewick in 1784 – represents the “the crowning work of the Bewick School. (...) I know no book, not even the Birds, which contains more excellent examples of the Bewick School. (...) This book is unequaled: the greatest yet produced as example of the art of wood engraving in its special sphere, the use of white-line.” (Masters of Wood Engraving) “Bewick claims the designs, and of course the book was produced under his direction; but both drawing and engraving I take to be nearly all by his pupils, the engraving certainly not inferior, but often superior to his own, and mainly, I believe, by Harvey, some perhaps by Nesbit. This one book is of itself almost sufficient for the student.” (A Manual of Instruction) Linton preferred and recommended this second edition, since the imprint of the first one from 1818 was insufficient and Bewick himself had been very disappointed with the result.

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