John Linnell Archive

© The Fitzwilliam Museum

John Linnell was one of the most highly regarded and successful artists of his day and formed an impressive network of connections. He was William Blakeís last patron and his daughter, Hannah, married Samuel Palmer. Thus his Archive is one of the most important surviving artistic archives of the nineteenth century. The vast correspondence includes letters from fellow artists, his sitters, art dealers, and prominent private collectors as well as family letters. It also includes extensive financial material (accounts, receipts etc.), legal documents and a miscellany of other items. Records of particular significance include 13 volumes of Linnellís journals, his 5 cash books and the manuscript of his autobiographical notes.

The Fitzwilliam Museum was able to acquire the archive in 2000. Regarded as of national importance, the purchase was made possible with the aid of a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund, together with contributions from the Friends of National Libraries, the Pilgrim Trust and the Charlotte Bonham-Carter Charitable Trust.

The Fitzwilliam Museum and John Linnell

It is particularly appropriate that the Fitzwilliam should have acquired the Archive in view of the Museum's close connections with the Linnell Family and its extensive holdings of William Blake. Indeed, the most significant of these were bequeathed by T. H. Riches (the grand-daughter of John Linnell) and were originally part of John Linnellís own collection. These include the illuminated manuscripts of The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, The Songs of Innocence and Experience, The Visions of the Daughters of Albion, America, a Prophecy, the monotype of The Lazar House and the watercolour illustrations for Miltonís Paradise Regained.

In 1982 the Fitzwilliam Museum held a major centennial exhibition on John Linnell. This was suggested by Joan Linnell Ivimy, who offered much support and encouragement in the preparation of the exhibition.

The Fitzwilliam Museum also holds the archive of Raymond Lister, the renowned expert on Samuel Palmer. He extensively consulted the Linnell Archive for his published works on Palmer.



 Exhibition Notes

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