Linton- Life in the Collections
Bryant, William Cullen ed.:
20) Picturesque America or, the Land we Live in. A Delineation by Pen and Pencil. (2 Vol.)
New York 1872
The two magnificent folio volumes of Picturesque America were edited and introduced by Linton’s friend William Cullen Bryant. They consist of numerous essays and of a total of nine hundred wood engravings and fifty steel engravings, which are considered to have had a profound influence on the rise of tourism in the United States. The engravings are based on the watercolours of various American landscape artists such as Thomas Moran, Robert Swain Gifford, Thomas Cole and Granville Perkins, but the predominant part of the illustrations were executed by Harry Fenn. Fenn was also the leading illustrator of the subsequent tourist publications Picturesque Europe (1875) and Picturesque Palestine (1881).
American Edition / French Edition
“The imperial quarto size of the page gave scope to the engraver; and there was no more need for either weakening refinement of small book-work or for the haste of newspaper requiring. The best landscapes in this country (and nothing of later years in England will equal them) are to be found here. (...) In landscape subjects the drawings are usually worked in with Indian ink or sepia, and the engraver has to find the lines most appropriate to the same. (...) The fault of which I accuse almost all work of later days is that the engraver seems to care only for color, for the general effect of his cut, neglecting the making out of forms and the expression of different substances, letting two or three sets of unmeaning lines serve for everything. I hold that, on the contrary, the engraver should be always aware of the many differences of form and substance, texture, nearness, distance, etc., and use his graver as he would a pencil in distinctly and accurately rendering them.” (Linton, The History of Wood Engraving in America)
In her scholarly work Creating Picturesque America, Sue Rainey characterizes this project “as the first publication to celebrate the entire continental nation, it enabled Americans, after the trauma of the Civil War, to construct a national self-image based on reconciliation between North and South and incorporation of the West.” She detects “many excellent examples of primarily white-line engraving” in these folios “which meet Linton’s criteria for good engraving: careful gradation and wide range of black-to-white shading, firm cuts and `meaningful lines`.” Linton contributed twenty-three excellent full-page engravings. They show those dramatic views of poetic sublimity, which are characteristic of him, with torrential cataracts and troubled skies.