John Linnell’s Kensington Gravel Pits:

A Landscape from the Edge of London

Introduction

John Linnell’s oil painting Gravel Pits, exhibited at the British Institution in 1813 (fig. 1) describes an open gravel pit on once verdant land, a yawning breach that narrows as it moves horizontally across the surface of the 2.3-by-3.7-foot canvas, to reveal a cross section of the Earth’s strata. The excavated gravel and sand rise in piles on the near bank. Scattered near the pit’s edge, five men, two adolescents and a woman are at work. On the far side of the pit, a terraced road cuts into the slope, and farther up awaits a wagon hitched with horses, ready to haul away a load of gravel. The pit and the piles of individually delineated pieces of gravel shimmer in the sunlight.

Figure 1. John Linnell, Kensington Gravel Pits, 1811-12, oil on canvas, 71.1 x 106.7 mm. Tate Britain, London.

Reviewing the exhibition for The Examiner, Robert Hunt wrote: “Gravel Pits is a landscape of first rate merit. It is nature presented in its most agreeable and lively aspect as far as regards so novel and difficult a subject”.[1] Although the Morning Post misspelled the artist’s name – as did the catalogue – the critic acknowledged that “Lennel [sic] whose early merit attracted our notices some years ago, has fulfilled the promise of his talents: he has an excellent picture of Gravel Pits”.[2]

Neither reviewer elaborated on the unusual image of a working pit. Nevertheless, Linnell’s painting transformed the mundane into the monumental, making viewers pay attention to the gravel and the pit that cut into a rural field. Such attention may have been difficult or unwelcome. As David Solkin writes:

Such an image may have merited admiration for its truthfulness, but it evidently contained too little that potential buyers would have found pleasing; where landscape paintings were expected to look poetic, this seemed closer to the kind of quasi-scientific view that might be produced with the technological aid of a camera lucida, or of the Graphic Telescope that Cornelius Varley patented in 1811. Moreover, while Linnell’s viewers may have been used to encountering scenes of hard work in their daily lives, this was not something they wished to be confronted with in art, at least not so directly.[3]

Solkin refers to the painting, now known as Kensington Gravel Pits, as a “radical exercise in naturalism”.[4] In so doing, he concurs with Andrew Hemingway, who writes about such exercises as the forerunners of a wider artistic engagement with modern life: “[A]lmost inadvertently, the project of naturalism, premised on a valorizing of originality and a rejection or revision of the norms of the picturesque, led artists to deal with the modern”.[5] The painting stood apart from what contemporary viewers expected to see at an exhibition and as Solkin notes, it was not an image embraced by the public. Viewers were accustomed to poetic landscapes of rural tranquillity or sublime visual encounters with spectacular mountains. Yet if contemporary reviewers found it hard to parse the subject of Linnell’s painting, they were still impressed by its execution. As another contemporary reviewerwrote: “This very pleasing representation of a gravel pit, may be numbered amongst the finest pictures of the collection; the effect is bold, the colouring rich and clear and the penciling masterly.”[6] Unlike other reviews of landscapes or genre paintings in which artists such as Thomas Heaphy were criticized for squandering their talents on an unworthy subject, these reviews do not take Linnell to task; they simply never address his subject.[7]

Scholarly work on Linnell is limited, and there has been no extended study of the Kensington Gravel Pits. The work of Andrew Hemingway and Charlotte Klonk is enormously helpful in situating the painting in the context of what art historians now refer to as naturalism. The John Linnellcentennial exhibition in 1982 offered a comprehensive trajectory of Linnell’s long career, and Katharine Crouan’s introduction underscores the importance of the artist’s early sketches from London’s northern environs. Scholars looking at Linnell’s work from this period regularly focus on his religious conversion at the end of 1811, and some attribute the intensity of the Kensington Gravel Pits to his recently acquired faith.[8] Anne Lyles summarizes these arguments in an excellent essay on plein air painting, writing that the objectivity and intensity of Linnell’s painting “has been explained as an expression…of his new-found belief that to paint God’s handiwork meant to paint it exactly as it was”.[9] However, it is debatable whether the Kensington Gravel Pits, a portrayal of the earth despoiled by man, can be characterised as a spiritual painting.[10]

            Solkin and Hemingway have placed Kensington Gravel Pits outside the mainstream of early nineteenth-century landscape painting, and in doing so, they offer an opening for my enquiry. What does the painting of this “novel and difficult subject” tell us about the place and time that it depicts, and how does understanding its time and place help to better appreciate Linnell’s composition? In this respect, it is instructive to compare it to Edouard Manet’s Argenteuil, les canotiers (1874), a painting of a woman and her companion seated on a bench along the Seine with the small town of Argenteuil, just outside of Paris, in the background. In his seminal work The Painting of Modern Life: Paris in the Art of Manet and His Followers, T.J. Clark writes that Manet painted the environs of Paris as “special territory in which some aspects of modernity might be detected”.[11] Clark finds in Argenteuil all of the elements that describe Parisians at the end of the nineteenth century: “the middle class and its pleasures, the countryside organized to attend to them and the answering presence of industry”.[12] In Manet’s painting,he writes, “the most literal effort was made to put such things in order and insist they belonged together”.[13]

I will argue that the Kensington Gravel Pits – in its formal structure and its content – represents a similar effort, set in the environs of London rather than Paris. It engages with a place on the outskirts of London undergoing rapid change, a place where Linnell lived from 1809 until August 1812. During his time on the city’s edge, London was in the midst of a building boom, and the raw materials furnishing that boom were being excavated from the city’s rural perimeter. These environs were fueling the city’s growth, but also being changed by it. The Kensington Gravel Pits,I will argue, is a monumental landscape of a stretch of countryside in the throes of change.

Gravel and the Metropolis

            In the painting, a pit cleaves the earth, upending sod and grass to give access to the raw materials that will help create new mounds, roads, and earthen walls. In Linnell’s rendering the gravel is so tangible that it looks three-dimensional, and the sand appears ready to scoop. The materials glisten in the sun, ready to be loaded onto the nearby cart for delivery to another work site. The scene describes an active pit, one of many such pits providing the natural resources for the city’s modernisation.

            When he worked on the painting in 1811 and 1812, Linnell lived in or near the village known as Kensington Gravel Pits, which comprised a few acres lying on either side of Uxbridge Road at Pembroke Gardens, or, as a later history described it, “an undefined district lying partly to the north and partly to the south of Uxbridge Road; indeed the greater part was on the north side”.[14] Contemporary maps simply put Kensington Gravel Pits at the Uxbridge juncture but fail to mark exact boundaries, which roughly define the area on Uxbridge Road between Kensington Palace and Holland Park that is now known as Notting Hill Gate (fig. 2).

Figure 2. Detail from Parish Map of Kensington, 1820. KEY: 8. Village of Kensington Gravel Pits, 1. Royal Palace 3. Holland House

            The village’s pits were part of a geological bed known as Taplow Terrace, which runs from Kensington to Essex, and they were among the many in London that had produced or were still producing gravel, clay and sand. “Gravel is purchased by the load, and the pebbles are bought by the ton-weight”, an 1811 Book of Trades states.[15]

A monthly magazine from 1813 describes London’s wealth of gravel:

The hills or risings on which the principal part of the town stands, are mostly a mixture of clay and sand, the sand or gravel generally being in rather the largest proportion. In some places the soil is gravel.[16]

The gravel at Kensington was particularly well known “because of its high content of iron oxide, which gave it a rich colour and good binding qualities”.[17] Although some pits or fields were used exclusively for a single material, it is likely that the Kensington pit produced all three materials as a contemporary map shows a brick kiln nearly contiguous to the pit (fig. 3). Moreover, one of the men in the centre of Linnell’s painting is using a sieve to separate gravel from sand (fig. 4).

Figure 3. Detail from Environs of London by John Rocque, 1741-1745. British Library, London.

Figure 4. Detail. John Linnell, Kensington Gravel Pits, 1811-12.

            Gravel pits were one of the country’s oldest sources of raw material for roads and buildings, and gravel’s use is well documented. The first verse of the eighteenth-century nursery rhyme London Bridge Is Falling Down proposes building it up again with “gravel and stone”.[18] The Romans dusted their roads with gravel, later settlers used it as ballast for ships, and during Linnell’s lifetime London’s roads went from being largely gravel-only to modernised paving that used gravel to help bind and protect the road’s surface.

            Initially, villagers excavated gravel and clay for their own use, but by the late eighteenth century local authorities were also claiming it for road repair.[19] An Act of Parliament issued in 1769 gave the turnpike trust operating the road between Tyburn and the Kensington Gravel Pits the right to “cut, dig, gather” and carry away material from the pit.[20] While the Kensington pits are the only ones named for a village where they are located, there were several Gravel Lanes in and around London, as well as New and Old Gravel Lanes; a Baptist ministry in Hackney was known as the Gravel Pit Chapel because of its proximity to a pit.[21] Near Kensington, there were also pits in Hyde Park, Bayswater and Paddington.[22] Once pits were depleted, nearby residents abandoned them and let nature take its course. Queen Anne turned a large abandoned gravel pit at Kensington Gardens into a terraced garden; others were filled in or flooded to become – initially unplanned and later orchestrated – refuges for wild birds.[23]

            While the pits had long been a feature of greater London, the gravel and clay they produced became all the more essential during London’s wartime boom. As evidence of that growth, one has only to look at the rising importance of the construction sector. By 1793 capital formation in construction had begun to overtake

agriculture, and by the end of the war with France the sector was half again as large.[24] Thanks to the turnpike trusts that ensured road improvements by collecting taxes at some 126 toll gates around London ­– at least five of them near Kensington Gravel Pits – demand for gravel and clay was strong.[25]

             A near-contemporary engineer writes, “gravel roads beaten down serve as a good foundation” within a newer method of constructing roads.[26] His treatise describes the way in which newer roads were built with stones placed on top of a beaten-down gravel surface. Workers sifted gravel and clay between the stones and then topped the road with gravel to protect the surface while the stones and gravel mixture settled and hardened.

It may be easily conceived that if a grain of gravel inserts itself into holes that are in stones opposite to each other, they will dowel them together. It will be useful to cover a newly made pavement with gravel, which will preserve the fresh pavement for sometime from the irregular pressure of wheels, till the whole is consolidated.[27]

A harder surface meant that mail and other coaches could speed along the expanding road system without getting caught in a flooded highway or having wheels and axles damaged by flying gravel.

            The newer roads brought the environs of London closer to the centre of the city. The opening of the Paddington Canal in 1801, just to the east of Kensington, also made it easier to move raw construction materials and extended London’s reach. These new links to the city – the canals and the tollgates at the turnpikes – became the inspiration for topographical drawings and etchings. Paul Sandby, also a resident of London’s northern environs in nearby Paddington, produced a series of topographical drawings of the tollgates. These included The Old Swan, Bayswater, at the Tollgate (fig. 5), a lively scene with dozens of figures as well as carts and wagons loaded with materials, and Tyburn Turnpike (fig. 6). In its review of the latter, The Repository of Arts noted the improvements at the city’s northern entrance that the watercolor depicts and Tyburn’s new association with a war hero:

Dust-hills, and the general soil and refuse of the streets spread over acres of ground, surrounded this spot. These nuisances, and many miserable huts that bespoke the wretchedness of their inhabitants, have given place to a table row of houses, which are named Trafalgar, in honor of the great Nelson.[28]

Figure 5. Paul Sandby, The Old Swan, Bayswater, 1790, watercolor, 164 x 88.9 cm. Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

Figure 6. Paul Sandby, Tyburn Turnpike, 1813, etching and aquatint with hand-coloring, 146 x 216 mm. British Museum, London.

            The images also give a sense of the busy life at the turnpikes, one confirmed by contemporary accounts and literature. A history of Kensington written in 1820 recalls that the tollgate at the Kensington Gravel Pits “was enlivened every hour by the passage of mail coaches, stages and wagons”.[29] Activity at the tollgates was lively enough to inspire The TurnPike Gate, a musical farce in two acts by T. Knight shown at the Royal Theater in 1799. And William Wordsworth included a reference to both the brick kilns and tollroads in Guilt and Sorrow:

            No labourer watched his red kiln glaring bright,

            Nor taper glimmered dim from sick man’s room;

            Along the waste no line of mournful light

            From lamp of lonely toll-gate streamed athwart the night.[30]

            It is likely that the ongoing improvement of the roads and the building boom in London made carts piled high with gravel and sand a common sight in London. But images from the period had not made the landscape’s upheaval the central focus of an exhibition canvas. One of the few extant sketches of urban change is from the artist Richard Wilson’s student, the Welshman Thomas Jones. Jones’s 1785-86 plein air oil sketch The Outskirts of London: A View Looking Towards Queen Square (fig. 7) also describes urbanisation. As in Kensington Gravel Pits, a work site dominates the canvas, and the image also refers to a rural pasture that is being upended. Although not an exhibition painting, it too was unusual for its time, representing one of the earliest urban plein air oil sketches, a practice later taken up by Linnell and others.

Figure 7. Thomas Jones, The Outskirts of London: A View Looking Towards Queen Square, 1785-6, oil paint on paper, 241 x 330 mm. Tate Britain, London.

            In the visual culture of early nineteenth-century London, in fact, gravel was a rarely described commodity. Significantly, the few visual representations of gravel pits from this period focus on workers at rest; in these works, the pits appear to be casual, small-scale enterprises rather than substantial concerns. In George Morland’s Gravel Diggers (fig. 8) the workers are on a break and the pit is hidden, subsumed by a rural scene. Morland’s oil painting is undated, but he died in 1804 and lived in Kensington toward the end of his life, raising the possibility that his scene also represented a pit on the outskirts of London.[31] J.M.W. Turner’s Workmen Lunching in a Gravel Pit (fig. 9) places the workers at the centre of a Claude-like composition depicting workmen at rest. These paintings, like the 1801 watercolour drawing by Peter Le Cave (fig. 10), which shows a lone worker loading gravel onto the back of his cart, treat the business of excavating gravel as a sideline activity. In all of these images, the gravel pits hardly blemish the English landscape. Meanwhile artists such as Sandby used the visible proof of a growing and modern city as visual material. Such watercolours of busy turnpike gates or canals fit more easily into wartime images of London that extolled the city’s virtues and sophistication.

Figure 8. George Morland, The Gravel Diggers, date unknown but before 1804, oil on paint, 178 x 229 mm. Tate Britain, London.

Figure 9. John Mallord Turner, Workmen Lunching in a Gravel Pit, 1797, graphite and watercolor on paper, 434 x 373 mm. Tate Britain, London.

Figure 10. Peter Le Cave 1800, Man Loading and With Gravel Near a Village, watercolor drawing,166 x 237 mm. British Museum, London.

            In this context, Linnell’s image is radical, but from the evidence of gravel’s ubiquity in London and its growing use as a building material, the importance Linnell places on gravel in his painting is not unwarranted. The elements excavated from his pit – the piles of gravel and sand – were the foundation of London’s growth. In Linnell’s detailed rendering, gravel and sand glimmer like the precious commodities that they have become in London’s wartime expansion.

            Significantly, however, the gravel in Linnell’s painting is not simply a commodity. It is a natural part of the landscape, a water-worn stone created over decades, and its excavation reveals strata that connote aeons of geological change. The process is referred to in James Thomson’s Seasons, and while no contemporary critic mentioned a connection between the poem and Linnell’s painting, it is likely that Linnell and some of his viewers were familiar with it.

I see the leaning strata, artful ranged;

The gaping fissures to receive the rains,

The melting snows, and ever dripping fogs.

Strow’d bibulous above I see the sands,

The pebbly gravel next, the layers then

Of mingled moulds, of more retentive earths

The gutter’d rocks and mazy-running clefts;

That, while the stealing moisture they transmit,

Retard its motion, and forbid its waste.[32]

The lines refer to the origins of the Earth and the formation of rivers and canyons. The gravel, clefts and sand are all part of a cycle that is as old as the planet. Thus, in considering Linnell’s painting, it is important to remember that it is also a landscape in which Linnell has taken care to represent the Earth’s geological strata. Gravel is critical to London’s contemporary growth, but the painting also reveals the natural world as one in which Britain’s past and present are vividly connected.

Gravel and the Exhibition Space

            However ubiquitous on London’s streets, gravel rarely appeared on the walls in the rarefied atmosphere of exhibitions at the Royal Academy, the British Institution or the Society of Painters of Water-Colours. For the most part, landscapes on exhibition walls hewed to one of two traditions: the formal landscapes grounded in the study of Claude Lorrain and echoed in British art by Richard Wilson and Thomas Gainsborough, or the picturesque, as defined by William Gilpin, Archibald Alison and Richard Payne Knight. Sir Joshua Reynolds, the Academy’s first president, had argued in his Discourses that “Claude Lorrain conducts us to the tranquility of Arcadian scenes and fairy-land.” He goes on to note:

            Like the history-painter, a painter of landscapes, in this style, and with this            

            conduct, sends the imagination back into antiquity; and, like the poet, he   

            makes the elements sympathize with his subject: whether the clouds roll in           

            volumes like those of Titian or Salvator Rosa, – or, like those of Claude, are         

            gilded with the setting sun; whether the mountains have sudden and bold  

            projections, or are gently sloped; whether the branches of his trees shoot

            out abruptly in right angles from their trunks, or follow each other with only         

            a gentle inclination: all of these circumstances contribute to the general     

            character of the work, whether it be of the elegant, or of the more sublime

            kind.[33]

Twenty-one years later, Payne Knight summarised his own thoughts on the landscapes that could excite appropriately learned and refined associations, and offered three suggestions for the kinds of subject they should portray: “ruined buildings”, “scenery in which every object is wild, abrupt and fantastic”, and “neat and comfortable cottages”.[34] The latter, he wrote, could be inhabited “by simple, but not rude or vulgar peasantry”.[35]

            For all but the most accomplished artists, these definitions left little room for experimentation within the exhibition world. The reception of another set of paintings dealing with the village of Kensington Gravel Pits offers a useful example of the aesthetic boundaries that kept such subjects out of the mainstream of landscape painting. William Mulready’s 1812 Near the Mall, Kensington Gravel Pits (fig. 11), describes a quiet village scene. Although the roads have wheel ruts, there is no traffic, no industry; in fact, the donkey more closely resembles a household pet than a beast of burden. There is nothing to suggest that just beyond the houses men laboured in an open pit or that the nearby tollgate led to a busy thoroughfare.

Figure 11. William Mulready, Near the Mall, Kensington Gravel Pits, 1812, oil painting, 34 x 47.3 cm. Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

            Nevertheless, even this restrained depiction of the village tested the limits of aesthetic propriety. Mulready painted Near the Mall and a similar scene, The Mall, Kensington Gravel Pits (fig. 12), on a commission brokered through his Kensington neighbor Augustus Wall Callcott, but Callcott ultimately declined to recommend them to the patron.

            Mr. Cox came & we went to Creswicks, Websters & Mr. Sheepshanks’. He told

            me that Mulready’s little landscapes of the Mall had been painted for Mr.  

            Horsley but rejected by Callcott.[36]

The Royal Academy also rejected the two paintings that year and soon after Mulready returned to focus on genre paintings in which he had already had success.[37]

Figure 12. William Mulready, The Mall, Kensington Gravel Pits, 1811-12, oil on canvas, 35.5 x 48.5 cm. Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

            Of the hundred or so landscapes shown at the Royal Academy in 1813 and the more than hundred exhibited at the British Institution the year Linnell showed the Gravel Pits, most were pastoral or picturesque, or depicted awe-inspiring scenes from the more dramatic vistas of Wales or the Lake District. Many included references to historic buildings or sites. William Westall’s View of St. Paul’s from Bankside won praise for evoking in the “sublime dome of St. Paul” and the “commerce bustling on the wharfs and glittering on the river…the contemplation of the chief city of an empire.”[38] One of the few landscapes that did focus on a scene on the edge of the city – T.C. Hofland’s A View near Hampstead Heath Under an Approaching Storm in Spring – had, according to the reviewer, “the heart-enlivening freshness of the vernal season; a finish, freedom and decision of pencil, and power of light and shade”. [39] The critics eloquently articulated what pleased them in landscapes that captured nature at its most awe-inspiring or bucolic, or that pictured the city as a thriving imperial capital.

            While such paintings represented the majority of landscapes, it would be wrong to say that there were no other exhibition works that, like Linnell’s Kensington Gravel Pits, pushed the boundaries in landscape painting. Two oil paintings at the Royal Academy’s exhibition of 1813, which also depicted ordinary places, attracted critical notice – J.M.W. Turner’s Frosty Morning (fig. 13) and John Constable’s Landscape, which art historians now believe is Landscape, Boys Fishing (fig. 14).

Figure 13. Joseph Mallord William Turner, Frosty Morning, 1813, oil on canvas, 1137 x 1746 mm. Tate Britain, London.

Figure 14. John Constable, Landscape Boys Fishing, oil on canvas, 125.8 x 101.6 cm. National Trust, Fairhaven Collection, Anglesea Abbey, UK.

            They offer apt comparisons with Kensington Gravel Pits because they too were set in ordinary places without historic or literary references and that could not be easily categorised as either strictly classical or picturesque. The critic Hunt called Constable’s landscape “silvery, sparking and true to the greyish-green colouring of most of our English summer landscapes”.[40] The image’s associations are pleasant, and a viewer can imagine being in the landscape. As John Barrell has pointed out, Constable’s landscapes offer a nostalgic look at the British countryside; for years, however, Constable had trouble selling his paintings and getting elected to the Royal Academy. When Constable consulted Joseph Farington the following year on his prospects of being elected an associate at the Royal Academy, Farrington wrote:

I recommended to Him to look at some of the pictures of Claude before He returns to His Country studies, and to attend to the admirable manner in which all the parts of His pictures are completed.[41]

The advice underscores the contemporary preference for landscapes rooted in classical associations.

            Turner, who by 1813 was already a Royal Academician, received high praise for Frosty Morning,an arresting image of a roadside scene in Yorkshire ona frigid early morning. In the same review of Constable, Hunt wrote:

[Frosty Morning has] the identity of ground frost and atmosphere, in one of those winter mornings, when the gentle warmth of the sun begins to disrobe the earth of the fleecy covering thrown over it by the hand of winter; the light glittering throughout the picture, the mistily seen distance, the interspersion throughout of a warm yellow tinting on the unfrosted ground, and which beautifully qualify the grey passages, and the free though too unfinished touches, rank this picture among the nearest imitations of common nature.

            Even today, Turner’s success in capturing the sensation of an early morning chill is startling. He introduced the painting in the catalogue with a line from Thomson’s Seasons: “The rigid hoar frost melts before his beam”. It gives the viewer a poetic association and the painting’s muted light depicts the hazy atmosphere of that time of the morning when the sun has not yet warmed the ground. At least three of the figures appear to be waiting for the coach in the distance, but it is not entirely clear what the labourers are doing. Barrell suggests that the figures are digging up turnips to load into the empty cart.[42] David Hill makes a convincing case that the pickaxe, spade and locale suggest that they are there to load the cart “to carry sand or gravel, which abounds in the Wharfe valley…perhaps for use on pathways at the house”.[43] Regardless of whether the workers are meant to be harvesting turnips or gravel, it is the poetic atmospherics of Turner’s painting – the sense of the early morning chill – that dominates, and not its imagery of turnip plants or gravel.

            Even in the context of these paintings, accomplished works that flouted the conventions of landscape painting, the subject of Linnell’s Gravel Pits remains radical and surprising. Constable’s depiction of an unimportant valley nonetheless celebrated the English countryside, and Turner’s Frosty Morning, albeit an image of an ordinary road, shows it intact and dusted with frost. Over 40 years later, a reviewer who saw Linnell’s painting at a private gallery remarked on how strange it must have seemed compared to those by Linnell’s contemporaries.

It represents purely and simply these Hyde Park diggings, as they may have been at an early epoch of the present century. At that time the appearance of such a work would excite the utmost curiosity and surprise. If it were a production of the present day, it would be at once pronounced an essay from photography for every pebble is fairly represented.[44]

            One suggestion of why Linnell, despite his image’s novelty, found a warm critical reception for his gravel pits can be found in Hunt’s review of a Callcott landscape shown that same year on Bond Street. After a brief residence in London, Callcott, who was born in the village of Kensington Gravel Pits, returned in 1801 to live there for the rest of his life. At the end of an extended consideration of Apollo and Isse, which has not survived, Hunt equated Callcott’s aesthetic accomplishment with the visual experience that could be enjoyed in the London environs where the artist lived.

Such an effect is perfectly natural and common, or my eyes – which I have no reason to think are not among the best as to clearness of sight, – deceive me in my almost daily rambles in the outskirts of the metropolis. It is an effect, which has its peculiar beauties, as well as the deep-toned; and as novelty when according with Nature is what every aspiring mind is eager to produce.[45]

The review directly addresses the “peculiar beauties” found in the outskirts of London, with which the reviewer had become acquainted during his daily walks in the city’s environs. In doing so, Hunt, an important critic in framing the aesthetics of landscape painting, also acknowledges the possibilities in a part of England that generally lay outside the accepted parameters of studio-produced landscape paintings.

            Linnell’s Kensington Gravel Pits, makes particular use of the sunlight that he, like Hunt and Callcott, seem to have found in the city’s northern environs. One can suggest that it is not the pit’s grand size that strikes wonder in the spectator, but rather the meridian light that in Linnell’s handling gives the scene a fine-grained articulation. Linnell offers a minute rendering of the pit. Light and shading give his pebbles a sense of weight and texture. There is nothing muddy or indistinct in the earthen wall on the far side of the pit, and the undulating mounds of sand behind it appear so fine in certain areas that they could collapse if not held in check by more firmly packed sand nearby. The light on the far mounds shines so brightly as to dissolve the detail, much like the effect of blinding sunlight.

            Linnell, like Constable and Turner in their landscapes from 1813, moved beyond the picturesque in Kensington Gravel Pits. Unlike Constable, who celebrated a life that was disappearing, or Turner, who mesmerized viewers with the atmospherics of frost, Linnell made an exhibition work of a humble gravel pit. It is a tribute to his execution that the painting of so unusual a subject received such strong critical notice. But the work of Constable, Turner and Linnell also indicates that the exhibition world was paying attention to some of the most innovative paintings. Moreover, Hunt’s references to the special qualities of the area north of London as well as his description within an art review to the personal ramblings he enjoyed in the city’s outskirts, indicates a contemporary awareness that there was visual material to exploit in London’s environs.

Sketching the Ordinary in London’s Environs

            Hunt was not the only one to discover the city’s northern environs. The Callcott family had lived in Kensington Gravel Pits since Callcott’s grandfather, a bricklayer, moved there from the Midlands.[46] Sandby chose to live nearby in Paddington, and the artist David Wilkie settled in Kensington in 1811.[47] Again, it is likely the improved roads and transportation encouraged some of these moves. As Wilkie wrote to his mother in 1813, he wanted to stay in Kensington because of “its healthy situation” and “the convenience of coaches passing through it at all hours of the day”.[48] This convenience – as well as more affordable lodgings – may well have prompted the artist William Mulready’s move to Kensington Gravel Pits in 1809. Linnell joined Mulready and his family that same year and shuttled between Mulready’s flat on Robinson’s Row and his father’s house in Bloomsbury until August, 1811. [49] At that point, Linnell moved a couple of miles east to Bayswater where he remained until August 1812.[50] 

            Even before moving to the city’s perimeter, however, Linnell had been introduced to the practice of plein air sketching in places normally outside the conventions of exhibition work. That training occurred in 1804 under the direction of John Varley, a teacher and founding member of the Society of Painters of Water-Colours. “Varley’s motto was, ‘Go to Nature for everything,’ and henceforth Linnell adopted it as his own,” writes Linnell’s contemporary biographer, A.T. Story.[51] Through Varley, Linnell became part of a circle that included the artist’s brother Cornelius as well as Mulready, whom he would join in studying at the Royal Academy, and William Henry Hunt.

            The sketchers took an almost perverse interest in the most ordinary of objects, such as a punt moored in Twickenham (fig. 15) by Linnell or an ordinary house in Bayswater by Cornelius Varley (fig. 16). In contrast, for example, the sketching club first started by Thomas Girtin in 1799 and later involving the Varley brothers had a more traditional focus: sketching from poetic passages or literary subjects such as The Death of Milo.[52] Linnell never joined that club and appeared content during this period with less lofty prompts. In describing Hunt’s career in a history of the Old Water-Colour Society, John Lewis Roget related an anecdote from J.J. Jenkins:

Linnell was one of his fellow-pupils, and the two used to go together “to Kensington Gravel Pits, then open country, and sitting down before any common object, the paling of a cottage garden, a mossy wall or an old post, try to imitate it minutely. This careful mode of practice” was not encouraged then as it is now and such painstaking endeavours exposed them to many scoffs from the artists of their time.[53]

Figure 15. John Linnell, Study of a punt moored at Twickenham, 1806, oil on millboard, 16 x 25 cm. Private Collection.

Figure 16. Cornelius Varley, Houses at Bayswater, 1808, pencil and wash on paper, 165 x 222 mm. Private Collection.

            While some of their work from this period falls within the picturesque, much of it is well outside of its prescriptions. Not only were they painting the most mundane of images, they were doing so from the city’s perimeter in places such as Kensington, Hampstead and Bayswater. Cornelius Varley’s A Farmhouse at Hampstead (fig. 17) is a study in light that records the rural nature of Hampstead, and his drawing Bayswater and Kensington Gardens from Paddington (fig. 18) depicts a collection of small houses and buildings crowding up against the gardens. Two of Mulready’s plein air oil sketches from 1806, Gravel Pit (fig. 19) and Hampstead Heath (fig. 20), also show an interest in the landscape at the city’s edge.In Gravel Pit, the man-made hole dominates the canvas, and its inner ridges are articulated in graduated tones while light outlines the lip of the pit’s edge and the slope of its descent. The size of the pit and the children on its rim give the work a sense of foreboding.

Figure 17. Cornelius Varley, A Farmhouse at Hampstead, 1804-1808, pencil and watercolour, 229 x 362 mm. Private Collection.

Figure 18. Cornelius Varley, Bayswater and Kensington Gardens from Paddington, 1808-09, pencil, 280 x 381 mm. Private Collection.

Figure 19.  William Mulready, A Gravel Pit 1807-08, oil on millboard. Collection of Lord Northbrook

Figure 20. William Mulready, Hampstead Heath, 1806, oil on millboard, 16.4 x 25.8 cm. Victoria and Albert Museum, London 

            Plein air sketching, wrote Mulready on the back of a painting, was meant “to strengthen our knowledge of the structure (of the natural world) to enable us to paint better views with increased truth and feeling”.[54] Although the painting was undated, the message must have been something of an often repeated dictum for Mulready, as Samuel Palmer recalled the advice years later in a letter to the solicitor and collector Leonard Rowe Valpy, “We cannot as Mulready said, proceed a step without anatomy and in landscape.…We cannot rightly see or imitate what is before us without understanding structure”.[55] 

            Linnell’s own sketches from the northern environs show a keen attention to the landscape’s structure. Primrose Hill from 1811 (fig. 21) is an exquisite study of a hill that might otherwise have been considered mundane, in which the artist carefully limned each clump of grass, crevice in the earth or windblown drift (figs. 22 and 23). Arguably, it was during this period that Linnell also experimented with the camera obscura, as he mentions it in passing in his account book.[56] The watercolour Kensington Gardens (fig. 24) is numbered No. 1, indicating that it may have been one of several sketches Linnell did in preparation for the formal oil composition. It depicts the place where the gravel pits end and the gardens begin, juxtaposing a barren strip of land in the foreground with the gardens below. The Kensington Gravel Pits benefitted from such sketches, and in executing it, Linnell seems to embrace the geological intricacies produced when land has been turned inside out to reveal drifts, ridges and sub-angular rock fragments.

Figure 21.  John Linnell, Primrose Hill, 1811, pen and brown in with brown and grey wash, heightened with white chalk. 395 x 678 mm.  Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge.

Figure 22. Detail Primrose Hill, 1811.

Figure 23.  Detail Primrose Hill, 1811.

Figure 24. John Linnell, Kensington Gardens, 1812, watercolour, 100 x 140 mm. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

Two Views of the Environs

            Although it comes out of the practice of plein air sketching, Kensington Gravel Pits is not simply an image of geological matter. The pit and its natural resources dominate the canvas, but in the green fields beyond the pit, Linnell also references a more rural past. It is a work about change – a process that Linnell’s residence in the city’s northern environs put him in a position to witness. The manuscript of his autobiography, his account book for 1811, and his sketches suggest the breadth of his excursions across London in this period (fig. 25). In his autobiography, he writes:

When living with W Mull–at Kens G Pits I went every evening nearly all the season to the R. Academy to draw with Mulready & we often returned home at midnight after having spent the latter part of the evening at [unclear] Gouldsmith’s in Woodburn place or elsewhere. I did not think it any great matter to step-trot all the way through the mire without putting a heel to the ground in order to escape the first and appear decent in company. It took me about from 25 to 40 minutes to go from KGP to the RA at Sumerset.[57]

Figure 25. Blue line shows trajectory of Linnell’s possible walking routes between 1809 and August, 1812.

His Account Book from 1811 offers further evidence of his travels, noting that he often slept over at his father’s house at No. 2 Streatham Street in Bloomsbury or joined him there for breakfast.[58] And his sketches from Primrose Hill demonstrate that he wandered even farther north. In these excursions he would have witnessed the road repairs along the turnpikes to and from central London, as well as the brick kilns and gravel pits in Kensington and the on-going work at the Paddington Canal. In central London he would have walked past the new Drury Lane theatre that re-opened in 1811 and the new Covent Garden that was also finished that year.[59] In short, the city Linnell experienced would have been as varied and lively as any booming metropolis.

            Accordingly, it is not surprising that the images Linnell created included such diversity. His sketches from 1811 and 1812 project two versions of London’s environs – one a place that appears solitary and rural; the other, a region in which industry or urban sprawl intrudes. Bayswater (fig. 26), for example, delineates a detailed view of a road, roughed out in what appears to be the middle of nowhere. In contrast, an 1812 oil sketch Eastside of Edgeware Road Looking Towards Kensington (fig. 27) shows a scene of urban encroachment with only a medium-size patch of green field surviving. It is not unlike the sense of intrusion that we find in Cornelius Varley’s sketch of the housing crowded up against Kensington Gardens (fig. 18). The watercolours of the brick kilns in Kensington (figs. 28 and 29) place the kilns in a barren landscape, making them seem almost like natural elements growing organically out of the landscape. If not for its flatness and rigidity, the kiln’s chimney might be the trunk of a tree. Foundation at Stratten’s Chapel (fig. 30), which may have been the chapel in nearby Paddington, makes a still life out of a worksite, its elements a wheelbarrow, a plank and a pile of dirt.[60] A work shirt tossed over the plank suggests the labourer who left it behind.

Figure 26. John Linnell, Bayswater,1811, watercolour over black chalk heightened with white on blue-grey paper, 221 x 534. Private Collection.

Figure 27. John Linnell, East Side of the Edgeware Road, Looking Towards Kensington Gardens (Study from Nature), 1812, oil on board, 368 x 388 mm. Tate Britain, London.

Figure 28.  John Linnell, Study of a Brick Kiln, Kensington Gravel Pits, 1812, watercolor on paper, 107 x 150 mm. Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge. 

Figure 29.  John Linnell, The Brick Kiln at Kensington, 1812 watercolour on paper, 107 x 150 mm. Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge.

Figure 30.  John Linnell, Foundation of Stratten’s Chapel, 1811, watercolor over graphite on moderately thick, slightly textured, cream wove paper, 9.8 x 14.3 cm. Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection.

            Contemporary written accounts of Kensington and Bayswater also offer conflicting views. A History of London and Its Environs, from 1811, describes Kensington as containing 1,910 acres of land,

about half of which is pasture and meadow; about 460 acres are arable land for corn only, about 230 in market gardens; about 260 cultivated sometimes for corn and sometimes for garden crops; and 200 acres of nursery ground. The soil at Kensington is various: clay, loam and brick earth.[61]

In 1801, the history reports, there were 1,314 inhabited houses, and by 1811, the number had grown to 1,500. A contemporary notation specifically about the village of Kensington Gravel Pit describes it as follows:

Kensington Gravel-pits on the north side of the parish, has been a noted resort of invalids, especially those laboring under consumptive complaints, on account of the supposed purity of its air. The parish is variously cultivated in pasture, meadow and arable. A considerable portion of it is occupied by market-gardens and nursery grounds.[62]

Other contemporary accounts, however, indicate that the northern environs of London were decidedly less placid. The village was growing so much that the Vestry Minutes note as early as 1807 that the parish needed to find a larger burial ground because in its current place “it is almost impossible to get ground for a grave”.[63] The demographics changed from plot to plot, reflecting the presence of larger estates such as Kensington Palace and Holland House, which had been there for centuries, as well as alms houses occupied by workers from the brick kilns. In nearby Bayswater and Paddington, Irish workers attracted by the brick kilns and gravel pits had moved in earlier, creating pockets of labourers.[64] One newspaper account from the village of Kensington Gravel Pits reports a woman stealing turnips from a garden and being wounded after getting into an argument with a young man shooting birds.[65] And a near contemporary bit of advice to tollgate keepers effusively portrays the sweep of diversity on the turnpike roads: “You behold how persons of all ages and conditions, young and old, rich and poor, mingle and travel together on the Turnpike road, and methinks, therefore, the road represents human life”.[66]

            Like Linnell’s own sketches, these divergent views of the northern environs as both bucolic and urban convey a strong sense of a place that is undergoing change. In Kensington Gravel Pits, Linnell brings together these opposing views – the peaceful past and the more turbulent present. Halfway up and on both sides of the canvas, under a cloud-streaked sky, are reminders of what predated the pit. To the right is a small patch of grass and behind the mounds of sand and rock, a finely leafed tree. On the far left, the edge of the pit’s road meets the verdant field that it has partially displaced. A fence forms the far border of the grassy expanse. It is unclear whether the dwellings behind the fence represent the village of Kensington or a lone manor, and whether they represent another threat to pastoral England or are themselves threatened by urbanisation. In the foreground, fine wisps of grass have already reclaimed some of the earth’s surface, offering a sense of growth and regeneration. In Linnell’s Kensington Gravel Pits, a site that produces the materials that will become the surfaces for London’s “Flying Coaches” takes centre stage; but the composition also includes references to a bucolic past. While the painting engages openly with change, it neither fully repudiates nor fully embraces it.

Labour in Kensington Gravel Pits

Linnell’s Kensington Gravel Pits contains one other element that was unusual for the time: the imagery of labourers at work. In fact, the painting features eight labourers – five adult men, one woman and two adolescents. None of these figures is at rest. From their sweat-stained brows to the dirt that covers their arms, it appears they have been working in the hot sun for hours. The men wear the half-trousers of workers. The veins in their developed muscles are perfectly delineated and contrast with those of the young boys on the far left of the canvas. Only one of the adolescents is fully drawn, and from his undeveloped limbs and the suspenders holding up his trousers, it is clear that he is younger than the other workers (fig. 31). On the far right is a woman on her haunches, leaning over an apron, appearing to concentrate on some work. What might be two shallow rectangular trays sit on her right side, suggesting that she too is sieving material, possibly to harvest seeds or sand. Only one man’s face can be seen. He is looking toward the worker using the sieve.

Figure 31. Detail, John Linnell, Kensington Gravel Pits, 1811-12.

The scene contrasts sharply with those earlier depictions of gravel pit workers at rest or at lunch, as noted earlier in this dissertation. At Linnell’s gravel pit, even the dog in the foreground appears damaged. A bare patch of skin looks blood-stained (fig. 32). Arguably, the dog is not simply resting but is wounded, again indicating that while he may be a symbol of loyalty, he is also the kind of mangy dog specific to a scene of labour.

Figure 32. Detail, John Linnell, Kensington Gravel Pits, 1811-12.

            Such details rarely appeared in an exhibition painting. As Solkin notes, Linnell’s confrontation with manual labour was too direct for most contemporary viewers.[67] Including them violated a sense of aesthetic propriety. “In grand scenes, even the peasant cannot be admitted if he be employed in the low occupations of his profession: the spade, the scythe, and the rake are all excluded”, wrote Gilpin in 1772.[68] But even worse was the appearance of a labourer at work.

In a moral view, the industrious mechanic is a more pleasing object than the loitering peasant. But in a picturesque light, it is otherwise. The arts of industry are rejected; and even idleness, if I may so speak, adds dignity to a character. Thus the lazy cowherd resting on his pole; or the peasant lolling on a rock, may be allowed in the grandest scenes; while the laborious mechanic with his implements of labour, would be repulsed.[69]

Up until the early nineteenth century, the rural agricultural worker was the mainstay of the British economy; however, as John Barrell has so brilliantly shown, such workers were generally depicted in British landscapes in a way that ignored any class conflict or unhappiness. “For the most part the art of rural life offers us the image of a stable, unified, almost egalitarian society…”.[70] Haymakers and Reapers (figs. 33 and 34) by George Stubbs, for instance, shows men and women at work, but even in the heat of the day they are tidy, neatly coiffed and seemingly ready to sit down to a formal tea. There is no sense of labour in the condition of their dress, the articulation of muscle, or the sweat of their brows. As Michael Rosenthal writes, they “are [a] sober, industrious, obedient and curiously grateful workforce”.[71] 

Figure 33.  George Stubbs, Haymakers, 1785, oil on wood, 895 x 1353 mm. Tate Britain, London.

Figure 34. George Stubbs, Reapers, 1785, oil on wood, 135 x 35.4 cm. Tate Britain, London.

William Henry Pyne’s 1803 Microcosm and its successive editions offered amateur artists and others hundreds of figures “drawn from nature” to employ in their picturesque watercolours or drawings.[72] For the most part, they appear happy in their work, untouched by a grueling sun, unaffected by hours of work performed or the prospect of more to come. Some of Linnell’s contemporaries who similarly engaged in plein air sketching also softened the reality of agricultural work. Barrell describes how Constable’s landscapes “recreate an older, georgic image” of a productive East Anglia – a world that had disappeared during the war with France.

It was necessary for him to reduce his figures until they merge insignificantly with the landscape, to distance them, and even when they are in the foreground to paint them as indistinctly as possible, to evade the question of their actuality. The labourers do not step between us and the landscape – they keep their place, and it is a very small place, a long way away.[73]

In Kensington Gravel Pits there is no mistaking Linnell’s figures as labourers. One can actually feel them strain as they bend to lift rocks from the pit. In his book Men at Work, Barringer calls the oil painting “a radical depiction of labour” and “among the frankest representation of labour ever made”.[74] The work group was an accurate reflection of the war-time labour force on which London relied: one made up of men, women and children. Jobs at the pits required little skill and so were easily accessible to anyone. An 1811 Book of Trades puts the journeyman bricklayer’s wages at four to five shillings a day, the paviours, who fix the roads, at three shillings and tenpence a day, and his labourer two shillings and eightpence.[75] The labourer’s wages were only marginally better than those recorded by William Dunlap, a visitor to England in 1786, who reported a conversation between his travelling companion and two gravel workers. The doctor, Dunlap writes, began by observing: 

What happy people the English were, to which they agreed & seemed proud of the Idea of being happier than the people of any other country in their station, being perfectly content tho’ hard at labour in a damp gravel pit for the sum of 13 pence per day, out of which they found them-selves, cloathing provision &c…”.[76]

As the conversation proceeds, however, it turns out they aren’t so merry after all as one has a spouse who is out of work and his “scanty wages” are hardly enough to maintain both of them.[77]

It is certain that on his walks through the city, Linnell observed many low-wage workers and regularly witnessed the impact of deprivation. On his way to Primrose Hill the young artist may well have walked by the Workhouse at Marylebone, which had been in operation since 1776. Its records show that the number of indigent grew rapidly during the war with France, and by 1797 it reached and remained at its full capacity of 1,168.[78] In her social history, Dorothy George describes one pocket of workers near the gravel pits in Bayswater where Linnell lived during the years he painted the Kensington Gravel Pits:  “Little huts were set up for which a small ground-rent was paid. They were liable to be moved at six months’ notice and were then taken down and put up again on some other part of the land”.[79] As Irish labourers, many employed at the Paddington Canal, favored the area, where it was easy to grow potatoes.[80]

            Linnell’s reading in 1811 also offered a fairly radical view of the relationship between labour and land. Linnell notes in his Account Book on July 5, 1811, that he borrowed Paley’s “Moral Philosophy, a reference to the author’s Principles of Moral and Political Philosophy, a 1785 philosophical text adopted by Cambridge University.[81] In his foreword to the 2014 edition, D.L. Le Mahieu writes of Paley’s treatise:

His theological utilitarianism helped buttress the formation of classical liberalism, the most important political ideology to emerge from the Enlightenment. Yet his Principles also contains passages that mesh comfortably with traditional eighteenth-century aristocratic paternalism, a philosophy frequently antagonistic to liberalism.[82]

In terms of labour, Le Mahieu writes, Paley “vivified the gross inequities in the distribution of property”. This is clearly seen in such passages as the opening to Paley’s discussion of property.

Among men, you see the ninety-and-nine toiling and scraping together a heap of superfluities for one (and this one too, oftentimes the feeblest and worst of the whole set, a child, a woman, a madman, or a fool); getting nothing for themselves all the while, but a little of the coarsest of the provision, which their own industry produces; looking quietly on, while they see the fruits of all their labour spent or spoiled; and if one of the number take or touch a particle of the hoard, the others joining against him, and hanging him for the theft.[83]

            Linnell treats his labourers with dignity. Far from being incidental, the work they do is a critical part of the pictured landscape. While the figures clearly benefitted from the artist’s time at the Royal Academy’s life class and his study of Raphael and Michelangelo, they are more than classical models. Linnell has carefully considered the labourers, giving one a striped shirt, another a vest, a third the suspenders of a young boy. An apt comparison is Joshua Cristall’s handling of his fishermen in his watercolour Fish Market on the Beach, Hastings (fig. 35). These too benefitted from the forms of classical training provided by the Royal Academy; and Cristall also gives his figures attributes that make them distinct from one another. But there are key differences between Linnell’s gravel pit workers and Cristall’s fishermen. The latter appear in morning light, relaxed in their work, each individual also a part of a community bringing its bounty to market. Cristall’s watercolour could be read as a celebration of the community’s fortitude and by extension a celebration of the nation.

Figure 35. Joshua Cristall, The Fish Market on the Beach, Hastings,  exhibited 1808, watercolour, 762 X  1054 mm. Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

            The sunlight in Linnell’s painting, however, makes the dusty pit a less comfortable scene. The dirt smudges on the workers’ clothes and the strain evident in the articulation of their muscles suggest the work is difficult and still under way. We never see their work boots; it is as if the workers are planted in the pit, unable to get away. The image teeters on the brink of stressing the drudgery of manual labour, but Linnell’s choreography of the figures mitigates any sense of desolation. The movement of the three central figures suggests they are working in tandem, one sieving gravel, one ready to scoop in more, and the third figure looking down into the pit, presumably at another figure below with whom he is working. The two figures to the right of the canvas also appear to be moving through different steps of an action – close to each other, but not in danger of colliding. The pit workers are a community acting together: but the work they are doing is difficult and Linnell’s painting honors their labour by making explicit their exertion. Still, their toil is subsumed within an ideal of rhythmic collaboration. Moreover, our confrontation with the labourers is tempered by their positioning. Except for the one man who is looking at his coworker, Linnell turns his figures away from us, a decision that depersonalizes the labourers. So, while Linnell’s inclusion of labourers is radical and respectful, he also modulates their aesthetic impact. 

Conclusion

            In her book Landscape and Ideology Ann Bermingham writes:

Rustic landscape painting is ideological in that it presents an illusionary account of the real landscape while alluding to the actual conditions existing in it. Hence although it neither reflects nor directly mirrors reality, the rustic landscape does not altogether dispense with it.[84]

What sets Kensington Gravel Pits apart from that tradition is its seeming confrontation with a particular place: the environs of London. Meanwhile what distinguishes the work from those of his fellow plein air sketchers such as Varley and Mulready is that Linnell used the elements particular to the landscape of the environs to create an exhibition painting. Linnell’s critical success suggests that his complex composition put order and beauty into the imagery of upheaval and violent change occurring on London’s perimeter.         

            Linnell sold Gravel Pits when he exhibited it later in 1813 at the Liverpool Academy. It sold then for only £45, but he notes on a sketch of it that it sold again in 1847 for £220.[85] The first sale was not going to be enough to raise a family on, and soon after marrying in 1817, Linnell spent most of his time as a successful portrait painter – one who nevertheless continued to paint landscapes. “I lived to paint (landscapes),” he wrote in his autobiography. “The portraits I painted to live”.[86] The authenticity of this statement can be read in his early letters, such as one written to his father in August 1815 from Newberry where he was working on a portrait. “I shall not neglect my studies for landscape by being employed here now because the finest season is coming for that, namely autumn when I hope to retrieve anytime I may now have lost on that subject”.[87]

            Much later in life, Linnell returned in earnest to landscape painting, sometimes working up sketches he had made earlier in his career. This work included a reprise of his 1813 Gravel Pits. He painted his 1857 Gravel Pits (fig. 36) on a £300 commission from William Agnew, an important dealer and collector. When it was finished, he wrote toAgnew, “I have endeavored to beat my former self”.[88] It too describes an open pit, but in this version, the pit nearly obliterates any suggestion of a rural past and the sun shines less brightly. At least thirteen men, including one whose face we see, work in the pit, and one woman sits nearby. The men are smaller and less differentiated than those in the 1813 painting. The dog in this version stands on all four legs and appears to be wagging his tail. The pit’s vastness and the number of men suggest that it is more a painting about a community working in harmony than one referencing change.

Figure 36. John Linnell, The Kensington Gravel Pits, 1857, oil on canvas. 61.5 x 95 cm. Private Collection.

            In his autobiography, Linnell complains bitterly about the British Institution’s failure to purchase the Kensington Gravel Pits in 1813. “I was told that Flaxman spoke of this picture very favourably with some party and was well placed but was not purchased by any of the professed patrons of art who professed to support this institution professedly established for the encouragement of such productions as this and as a proof of their apathy and neglect”.[89] By the time he wrote this, Linnell had lost patience with institutions. After spurning him for years, the Royal Academy made an attempt to nominate the older artist, but Linnell turned down the offer, instead publishing an account of the offer and his response in a small book, The Royal Academy, A National Institution. Already a successful painter, he seemingly had no need of the R. A.’s stamp of approval.

            It is a measure of the modern reputation of Linnell’s 1813 Gravel Pits that it now hangs in Tate Britain on the same wall as two small Constable landscapes. Today, the painting is recognised for the very qualities that put it out of step with the tastes of contemporary viewers – its treatment of an ordinary scene undergoing extraordinary change. In a full-page editorial in 1992, the Burlington Magazine singles out Kensington Gravel Pits in its commentary on the exhibition Metropole London, referring to both the painting’s execution and its documentary subject: “When art is used as evidence its non-Utilitarian nature emerges only by accident: Linnell’s exquisite painting of the Kensington gravel pits upstages the architectural drawings and views of London streets among which it is hung”.[90]

            However puzzling or distasteful the depiction of a hole in the ground, mounds of gravel and a group of labourers may have been to art buyers in 1813, the contemporary critical response to Kensington Gravel Pits demonstrates Linnell’s success in making these unusual elements work in a formal composition. His critical reception can be attributed to his attention to detail, learned in part by sketching from nature, as well as to his mastery of composition and his careful modulation of perhaps the most radical element: men at work. And if, as his biographer claims, Linnell maintained fidelity in copying nature, he also demonstrates in Kensington Gravel Pits a fidelity to the world he witnessed – his own part of London, undergoing the growth, modernization and disruption of the era.

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_____________________________. William Mulready. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1980.

Hemingway, Andrew. Landscape Imagery and Urban Culture in Early Nineteenth-Century Britain. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992. 

Hill, David. In Turner’s Footsteps Through the Hills and Dales of Northern England. London: John Murray, 1984.

Hunt, R. The Examiner, March 7, 1813.

_________.  The Examiner, June 27, 1813.

__________.The Examiner, May 30, 1814.

__________.The Examiner, June 27, 1813.

­­Kauffmann, C.M. John Varley, 1778-1842. London: B.T. Batsford in association with the Victoria & Albert Museum, 1984. 

Klonk, Charlotte. Science and the perception of nature: British landscape art in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. New Haven: Published for the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art by Yale University Press, 1996.

Knowles, Christiana, John Linnell: his early landscapes, to 1830. Courtauld Institute of Art, M.A. thesis, 1980.   

Kriz, Kay D. The Idea of the English Landscape Painter: Genius as Alibi in the Early Nineteenth Century. New Haven: Published for the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art by Yale University Press, 1997.

Liechtenstein, Marie H.N. Holland House. London: Macmillan and Co, 1874.

Linnell, David, and John Linnell. Blake, Palmer, Linnell and Co: The Life of John Linnell. Sussex, England: Book Guild, 1994.

Morning Chronicle, December 24, 1811.

Morning Post, February 3, 1813.

Palmer, A.H., Frederic George Stephens, and William Vaughan. A Memoir of Samuel

Palmer. London: Pallas Athene, 2005.

Pidgley, Michael. “Cornelius Varley, Cotman, and the Graphic Telescope”. In The Burlington Magazine 114 (836), 781-786, 1972.

Pyne, W.H. , John C. Nattes, and Samuel Gosnell. Pyne’s Microcosm:, Or, Picturesque Delineation of the Arts, Agriculture, Manufactures, &c. &c. of Great Britain: In a Series of Several Thousand Groups of Small Figures: the Whole Accurately Drawn from Nature; and Comprising the Most Interesting Subjects in Rural and Domestic Scenery, in External and Inland Navigation, in Country Sports and Employments, in the Arts of War and Peace. London: Printed by S. Gosnell, Little Queen Street, Holborn, 1801.

Public Ledger & Daily Advertiser, November 27, 1811.

Rodee, Howard D. “The Dreary Landscape as a Background for Scenes of Rural Poverty in Victorian Paintings”. In the Art-Journal 36 (4):307-313, 1977.

Rosen, Charles, and Henri Zerner. Romanticism and Realism: The Mythology of Nineteenth-Century Art. New York: Viking Press, 1984.

Smiles, Sam. “Dressed to Till: Representational Strategies in the Depiction of Rural Labour, c.1790-1830”. In Michael Rosenthal, Christiana Payne and Scott Wilcox, eds.,

Prospects for the Nation: Recent Essays in British Landscape, 1750-1880. Studies in British Art 4, New Haven and London 1997, pp.79-95.

Solkin, David H. Art in Britain, 1660-1815. New Haven and London: Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art. 2015.

Smith, Greg. “Early Nineteenth-Century Landscape. York and London”. In The Burlington Magazine 142 (1167):384-386, 2000.

Stacey, David. 2010. “Images of industry: Material sources in British art c1800”. In The British Art Journal 11 (1):62-68, 2010.

Stephens, Frederic George. 1890. Memorials of William Mulready R.A. London: S. Low, Marston, Searle & Rivington, 1890.

Story, Alfred Thomas. The Life of John Linnell. 2 vols. London: Richard Bentley and Son, 1892.

Thomson, James. The Seasons.Annotated. Kindle Edition. Pelta: 2014.

Tromans, Nicolas. David Wilkie, The People’s Painter. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2007.

“Visits to Private British Galleries of the British School: The Collection of Thomas Miller Esq of Preston”. In The Art-Journal. London, February 1857: 41.

Whitley, William T. Art in England 1800-1820. Cambridge: University Press, 1928.

Wilton, Andrew, and Anne Lyles. The Great Age of British Watercolours, 1750-1880. Munich: Prestel-Verlag, 1993.

Wordsworth, William. The Collected Poetry of William Wordsworth. London: Wordsworth Editions, 1994.

Catalogues

Blayney Brown, David. Original Eyes: Progressive Vision in British Watercolour, 1750-1850. Liverpool: Tate Gallery, 1991.

_________________________. Oil sketches from nature: Turner and his contemporaries. London: Tate Gallery, 1992.

British Landscape Painting. London: Leger Galleries, 1994

British Watercolours: 2014. London: Lowell Libson, Ltd, 2014.

Bunt, Cyril and George Edward. The little masters of English landscape. Leigh-on-Sea: F. Lewis, 1949.

Crouan, Katherine. John Linnell: a Centennial Exhibition. Cambridge: Fitzwilliam Museum, 1982.

Cummings, Frederick, Allen Staley, Robert Rosenblum. Romantic art in Britain: paintings and drawings, 1760-1860. Detroit: Arts Institute of Detroit, 1968.

Feeling Through the Eye: The ‘new’ Landscape in Britain, 1800-1830. London: Spink-Leger, 2000.

Gregory, Martyn. English Romantic Landscape, John Linnell and His Contemporaries. London: Martyn Gregory Gallery, 1992.

Heseltine, J.P. John Varley and His Pupils, W. Mulready, J. Linnell, and W. Hunt: Original Drawings in the Collection of J.P.H. London: Chiswick Press, 1918.

John Linnell, 1792-1882: Paintings and Drawings. Salt Lake City: Salt Lake Art Center, 1964.

John Linnell, a Loan Exhibition of Drawings, Watercolours, and Paintings. London: P. & D. Colnaghi & Co., 1973.

John Linnell (1792-1882): Drawings & Sketches. Reading: Reading Museum, and Gallery Art, 1966.

John Linnell the elder, selections from the Archive of John Linnell. Cambridge: Fitzwilliam Museum, 2001.

Linnell and Dante Gabriel Rossetti: winter exhibition, fourteenth year. London: Printed by William Clowes and Sons, 1883.

Lister, Raymond. Victorian narrative paintings. London: Museum Press, 1966.

Martyn Gregory, Gallery. English Romantic landscape: John Linnell and contemporaries. London: Martyn Gregory Gallery, 1992.

Pall Mall, Gallery, and E. F. White. Exhibition of the works of John Linnell, sen. Together with a Selection of Important Pictures by Other Masters. London, 1875.

Samuel Palmer & His Circle, the Shoreham Period. London: Arts Council of Great Britain, 1957.

Pointon, Marcia R. William Mulready. London: Victoria and Albert Museum, 1986.

Rosenthal, Michael, Anne Lyles, Steven Parissien, Turner and Constable: Sketching from Nature: Works from the Tate. London: Tate, 2013.

Royal Academy of, Arts. Exhibition of works by the old masters, and by deceased masters of the British school: including a special selection from the works of John

Small Pictures: 9 November to 15 December 2000. London: Spink-Leger, 2000.

Solkin, David H. Art on the Line: The Royal Academy Exhibitions at Somerset House, 1780-1836. New Haven and London: Published for the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art and the Courtauld Institute Gallery, 2001.

Varley, Cornelius, and Timothy Wilcox. Cornelius Varley: The Art of Observation. London: Lowell Libson Ltd, 2005.

Watercolours and Drawings, 18th and 19th Centuries. London: Lowell Libson, 2004. 

Works by the Old Masters and by Deceased Masters of the British School, Including … Works of John Linnell and Dante Gabriel Rossetti. London: Royal Academy of Arts, Wm. Clowes, 1883.

Local and British History

An Account of the Old Gravel Pit Meeting House, Hackney, with Short Notices of Its Various Ministers, Since Its Erection in the Year 1716. London, 1853.

Bowden, Richard. Marylebone & Paddington. Stroud: Alan Sutton, 1995.

Clunie, John, and Elizabeth Davidson. Memoir of Miss Elizabeth Davidson, of Kensington Gravel Pits, Etc. London: J. Hatchard, 1813.

Dunlap, William, and Dorothy C. Barck. Diary of William Dunlap, 1766-1839: The Memoirs of a Dramatist, Theatrical Manager, Painter, Critic, Novelist, and Historian. New York: B. Blom, 1969.

Faulkner, Thomas, and B West. History and Antiquities of Kensington. London: T. Egerton, 1820. 

George, M.D. London Life in the Eighteenth Century. New York: Harper & Row, 1965. 

Gladstone, Florence M., and Ashley Barker. Notting Hill in Bygone Days. London: Anne Bingley, 1969.

Hurley, Beryl. The Book of Trades, Or, Library of Useful Arts, 1811: Vol. 1 & Vol. 2. Devizes, Wiltshire: Wiltshire Family History Society, 1991

Johnson, George W. A History of English Gardening: Chronological, Biographical, Literary, and Critical: Tracing the Progress of the Art in the Country from the Invasion of the Romans to the Present Time. London: Baldwin & Cradock, 1829.

Mathias, Peter, and M.M. Postan. The Cambridge Economic History of Europe: Vol. Vii: Part I. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1978.

Neate, Alan R. The St. Marylebone Workhouse and Institution, 1730-1965. London: St. Marylebone Society, 1967.

Old and New London, Volume 5, London, 1878.

Paley, William. Natural Theology: or, evidence of the existence and attributes of the deity, collected from the appearances of nature. New Edition. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2006.

Paley, William, and D.L. Le Mahieu. Principles of Moral and Political Philosophy. Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, Incorporated, 2014. E-book.

Pasmore, Stephen. “When Gravel Was Dug in Kensington”. In Country Life. November 13, 1975. 1335-1336.

Pryor, Francis. The Making of the British Landscape: How We Have Transformed the Land, from Prehistory to Today. London: Allen Lane, 2010.

Searle, Mark. Turnpikes and Toll-Bars. London: Hutchinson & Co, 1930.

Bottom of Form

Sheppard, F.H.W. Survey of London: Volume Xxxviii: the Museums Area of South Kensington and Westminster. London: Athlone Press, 1975.

Thompson, E.P. The Making of the English Working Class. New York: Pantheon Books, 1964.

Thornbury, Walter, and Edward Walford. Old and New London: A Narrative of Its History, Its People, and Its Places. Vol. 5. London: Cassell, 1897.

Uglow, Jennifer S. In These Times: Living in Britain Through Napoleon’s Wars, 1793-1815. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2014.

Universal Magazine, January 1804-June 1814, 20, no. 117.

Webster, John W., John Ware, and Daniel Treadwell. The Boston Journal of Philosophy and the Arts. Boston: Cummings, Hilliard, & Co, 1823.

List of Illustrations

Figure 1. John Linnell, Kensington Gravel Pits, 1811-12, oil on canvas, 71.1 x 106.7 mm. Tate Britain, London.

Figure 2Detail from Parish Map of Kensington, 1820. KEY: 8. Village of Kensington Gravel Pits, 1. Royal Palace 3. Holland House

Figure 3. Detail from Environs of London by John Rocque, 1741-1745. British Library, London.

Figure 4. Detail. John Linnell, Kensington Gravel Pits, 1811-12.

Figure 5. Paul Sandby, The Old Swan, Bayswater, 1790, watercolor, 164 x 88.9 cm, Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Figure 6. Paul Sandby, Tyburn Turnpike, 1813, etching and aquatint with hand-coloring, 146 x 216 mm. British Museum, London.

Figure 7. Thomas Jones, The Outskirts of London: A View Looking Towards Queen Square, 1785-6, oil paint on paper, 241 x 330 mm. Tate Britain, London.

Figure 8. George Morland, The Gravel Diggers, date unknown but before 1804, oil on paint, 178 x 229 mm. Tate Britain, London.

Figure 9. John Mallord Turner, Workmen Lunching in a Gravel Pit, 1797, graphite and watercolor on paper, 434 x 373 mm. Tate Britain, London.

Figure 10. Peter Le Cave, Man Loading and With Gravel Near a Village, 1800, watercolor drawing, 166 x 237 mm. British Museum, London.

Figure 11. William Mulready, Near the Mall, Kensington Gravel Pits, 1812, oil painting, 34 x 47.3 cm. Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

Figure 12. William Mulready, The Mall, Kensington Gravel Pits, 1811-12, oil on canvas, 35.5 x 48.5 cm. Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

Figure 13. Joseph Mallord William Turner, Frosty Morning, 1813, oil on canvas, 1137 x 1746 mm. Tate Britain, London.

 Figure 14. John Constable, Landscape Boys Fishing, oil on canvas, 125.8 x 101.6 cm. National Trust, Fairhaven Collection, Anglesea Abbey, UK.

Figure 15. John Linnell, Study of a punt moored at Twickenham, 1806, oil on millboard, 16 x 25 cm. Private Collection.

Figure 16. Cornelius Varley, Houses at Bayswater, 1808, pencil and wash on paper, 165 x 222 mm. Private Collection.

Figure 17. Cornelius Varley, A Farmhouse at Hampstead, 1804-1808, pencil and watercolour, 229 x 362 mm. Private Collection.

 Figure 18. Cornelius Varley, Bayswater and Kensington Gardens from Paddington, 1808-09, pencil, 280 x 381 mm. Private Collection.

 Figure 19. William Mulready, A Gravel Pit 1807-08, oil on millboard, Collection of Lord Northbrook.

Figure 20. William Mulready, Hampstead Heath, 1806, oil on millboard, 16.4 x 25.8 cm. Victoria and Albert Museum, London 

Figure 21. John Linnell, Primrose Hill, 1811, pen and brown in with brown and grey wash, heightened with white chalk, 395 x 678 mm. Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge.

Figure 22. Detail Primrose Hill, 1811.

Figure 23. Detail Primrose Hill, 1811.

Figure 24. John Linnell, Kensington Gardens, 1812, watercolour, 100 x 140 mm. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

Figure 25. Blue line shows trajectory of Linnell’s possible walking routes between 1809 and August, 1812.

Figure 26. John Linnell, Bayswater, 1811, watercolour over black chalk heightened with white on blue-grey paper, 221 x 534. Private Collection.

Figure 27. John Linnell, East Side of the Edgeware Road, Looking Towards Kensington Gardens (Study from Nature), 1812, oil on board, 368 x 388 mm. Tate Britain, London.

Figure 28. John Linnell, Study of a Brick Kiln, Kensington Gravel Pits, 1812, watercolor on paper, 107 x 150 mm. Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge.

Figure 29. John Linnell, The Brick Kiln at Kensington, 1812 watercolour on paper, 107 x 150 mm. Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge.

Figure 30. John Linnell, Foundation of Stratten’s Chapel, 1811, watercolor over graphite on moderately thick, slightly textured, cream wove paper, 9.8 x 14.3 cm. Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection.

Figure 31. Detail, John Linnell, Kensington Gravel Pits, 1811-12.

Figure 32. Detail, John Linnell, Kensington Gravel Pits, 1811-12.

Figure 33. George Stubbs, Haymakers, 1785, oil on wood, 895 x 1353 mm. Tate Britain, London.

Figure 34. George Stubbs, Reapers, 1785, oil on wood, 135 x 35.4 cm. Tate Britain, London.

Figure 35. Joshua Cristall, The Fish Market on the Beach, Hastings, exhibited 1808, watercolour, 762 X 1054 mm. Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

Figure 36. John Linnell, The Kensington Gravel Pits, 1857, oil on canvas. 61.5 x 95 cm. Private Collection.

Illustrations

Figure 1. John Linnell, Kensington Gravel Pits, 1811-12, oil on canvas, 71.1 x 106.7 mm. Tate Britain, London.

Figure 2. Detail from Parish Map of Kensington, 1820. KEY: 8. Village of Kensington Gravel Pits, 1. Royal Palace 3. Holland House

Figure 3. Detail from Environs of London by John Rocque, 1741-1745. British Library, London.

Figure 4. Detail. John Linnell, Kensington Gravel Pits, 1811-12.

Figure 5. Paul Sandby, The Old Swan, Bayswater, 1790, watercolor, 164 x 88.9 cm. Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

Figure 6. Paul Sandby, Tyburn Turnpike, 1813, etching and aquatint with hand-coloring, 146 x 216 mm. British Museum, London.

Figure 7. Thomas Jones, The Outskirts of London: A View Looking Towards Queen Square, 1785-6, oil paint on paper, 241 x 330 mm. Tate Britain, London.

Figure 8. George Morland, The Gravel Diggers, date unknown but before 1804, oil on paint, 178 x 229 mm. Tate Britain, London.

Figure 9. John Mallord Turner, Workmen Lunching in a Gravel Pit, 1797, graphite and watercolor on paper, 434 x 373 mm. Tate Britain, London.

Figure 10. Peter Le Cave 1800, Man Loading and With Gravel Near a Village, watercolor drawing,166 x 237 mm. British Museum, London.

.

Figure 11. William Mulready, Near the Mall, Kensington Gravel Pits, 1812, oil painting, 34 x 47.3 cm. Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

Figure 12. William Mulready, The Mall, Kensington Gravel Pits, 1811-12, oil on canvas, 35.5 x 48.5 cm. Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

Figure 13. Joseph Mallord William Turner, Frosty Morning, 1813, oil on canvas, 1137 x 1746 mm. Tate Britain, London.

Figure 14. John Constable, Landscape Boys Fishing, oil on canvas, 125.8 x 101.6 cm. National Trust, Fairhaven Collection, Anglesea Abbey, UK.

Figure 15. John Linnell, Study of a punt moored at Twickenham, 1806, oil on millboard, 16 x 25 cm. Private Collection.

Figure 16. Cornelius Varley, Houses at Bayswater, 1808, pencil and wash on paper, 165 x 222 mm. Private Collection.

Figure 17. Cornelius Varley, A Farmhouse at Hampstead, 1804-1808, pencil and watercolour, 229 x 362 mm. Private Collection.

Figure 18. Cornelius Varley, Bayswater and Kensington Gardens from Paddington, 1808-09, pencil, 280 x 381 mm. Private Collection.

Figure 19.  William Mulready, A Gravel Pit 1807-08, oil on millboard. Collection of Lord Northbrook

Figure 20. William Mulready, Hampstead Heath, 1806, oil on millboard, 16.4 x 25.8 cm. Victoria and Albert Museum, London 

Figure 21.  John Linnell, Primrose Hill, 1811, pen and brown in with brown and grey wash, heightened with white chalk. 395 x 678 mm.  Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge.

Figure 22. Detail Primrose Hill, 1811.

Figure 23.  Detail Primrose Hill, 1811.

Figure 24. John Linnell, Kensington Gardens, 1812, watercolour, 100 x 140 mm. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

Figure 25. Blue line shows trajectory of Linnell’s possible walking routes between 1809 and August, 1812.

Figure 26. John Linnell, Bayswater,1811, watercolour over black chalk heightened with white on blue-grey paper, 221 x 534. Private Collection.

Figure 27. John Linnell, East Side of the Edgeware Road, Looking Towards Kensington Gardens (Study from Nature), 1812, oil on board, 368 x 388 mm. Tate Britain, London.

Figure 28.  John Linnell, Study of a Brick Kiln, Kensington Gravel Pits, 1812, watercolor on paper, 107 x 150 mm. Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge. 

Figure 29.  John Linnell, The Brick Kiln at Kensington, 1812 watercolour on paper, 107 x 150 mm. Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge.

Figure 30.  John Linnell, Foundation of Stratten’s Chapel, 1811, watercolor over graphite on moderately thick, slightly textured, cream wove paper, 9.8 x 14.3 cm. Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection.

Figure 31. Detail, John Linnell, Kensington Gravel Pits, 1811-12.

Figure 32. Detail, John Linnell, Kensington Gravel Pits, 1811-12.

Figure 33.  George Stubbs, Haymakers, 1785, oil on wood, 895 x 1353 mm. Tate Britain, London.

Figure 34. George Stubbs, Reapers, 1785, oil on wood, 135 x 35.4 cm. Tate Britain, London.

Figure 35. Joshua Cristall, The Fish Market on the Beach, Hastings,  exhibited 1808, watercolour, 762 X  1054 mm. Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

Figure 36. John Linnell, The Kensington Gravel Pits, 1857, oil on canvas. 61.5 x 95 cm. Private Collection.

.


[1] R.H. (Robert Hunt), The Examiner, March 7, 1813.

[2] Morning Post, Feb. 3, 1813.

[3] David Solkin, Art in Britain 1660-1815 (London and New Haven: Yale University Press, 2015), 277.

[4] Ibid., 277.

[5] Andrew Hemingway, Landscape Imagery and Urban Culture in Early Nineteenth-Century Britain (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press), 295.

[6] Rudolph Ackermann and L Harrison, editors,The Repository of Arts, Literature, Commerce, Manufactures, Fashions and Politics, Vol. 9, Series 1 (London: R. Ackermann, Sherwood & Company, 1813), 218.

[7] Exhibition of the Water Colour Society, at the Great Room, in Spring Gardens”, in Le Beau Monde and Monthly Register,1(4, 1809), 338.

[8] Linnell writes in his Account Book from 1811 that he is “working to belong to the Baptist Church,” and the church’s minutes show he was baptised on January 9, 1812. Account Book, MS55-2000, 34. Linnell Archive, Fitzwilliam Museum. Minutes Book, Keppel Street Baptist Church, June 22, 1795 to October 30, 1826. Archive for the Baptist Church, Angus Library of Regent’s Park College, Oxford University.

[9] Anne Lyles, “The Origins and Development of Plein Air Sketching in Britain, c1770-1830”, in Turner and Constable Sketching form Nature (London: Tate, 2013), 40.

[10] Tim Barringer makes a convincing and well-developed case in Men at Work for the link between Linnell’s spirituality and his much later landscapes depicting the harvesting season. Barringer, Men at Work: Art and Labour in Victorian Britain (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2005), 114-131.

[11] T.J. Clark, The Painting of Modern Life: Paris in the Art of Manet and His Followers (New York: Knopf, 1985), 147.

[12] Ibid.,164.

[13] Ibid.,164.

[14] Walter Thornbury and Edward Walford, “Notting Hill and Bayswater”, in Old and New London, Vol. 5 (London, 1878): 177.

[15] The Book of Trades or Library of Useful Arts 1811, Vol. I (London, R. Phillips, 1811), 9.

[16] “General Account of Middle Sex” in Universal Magazine, Jan. 1804-June 1814, Vol. 20, No. 117 (08, 1813), 101.

[17] Stephen Pasmore, “When Gravel was Dug in Kensington”, in Country Life (November 1975), 1335.

[18] Lovechild, Tommy Thumb’s Song-Book: For All Little Masters and Misses: to Be Sung to Them by Their Nurses Till They Can Sing Them Themselves (Glasgow: J. Lumsden & Son, 1815), 25.

[19] Francis Pryor, The Making of the British Landscape: How We Have Transformed the Land, from Prehistory to Today (London: Allen Lane, 2010) Kindle Edition, 9403.

[20] An Act of Parliament (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1769), 30.

[21] There are many references to these streets in the contemporary press. Here are some for 1811: Gravel Lane: Morning Chronicle (Dec. 24, 1811), 3; Old Gravel Lane: Public Ledger & Daily Advertiser, (Nov. 27, 1811), 3; New Gravel Lane, Bell’s Weekly (Dec. 29, 1811), 6; Gravel Pit Chapel, John Davies. An Account of the Old Gravel Pit Meeting House, Hackney, with Short Notices of Its Various Ministers, Since Its Erection in the Year 1716 (London, 1853).

[22] For the reference to gravel pits in Bayswater, see The Parliamentary Debates from the Year 1803 to the Present Time (London: T.C. Hansard, 1808), 477; for the reference to gravel pits in Hyde Park, see Rev. Daniel Lysons, The Environs of London, being an Historical Account of the Towns, Villages and Hamlets within Twelve Miles of that Capital: Interspersed with Biographical Anecdotes, Vol II, County of Middlesex (London: T. Cadell and W. Davies Strand, 1810), 114. And for a reference in Paddington see Report from Select Committee of the House of Commons appointed to Inquire into the Education of the Lower Orders in the Metropolis with the Minutes of Evidence Taken Before the Committee (London: Gale and Fenner, 1816), 114.

[23] George W. Johnson, A History of English Gardening: Chronological, Biographical, Literary, and Critical: Tracing the Progress of the Art in the Country from the Invasion of the Romans to the Present Time (London: Baldwin & Craddock, 1829), 145.

[24] Domestic fixed capital formation in Great Britain for building grew to £5.1, compared to £3.6 for agriculture in 1793, and by the end of the war it represented £ 8.5 million compared to £5.3 million for agriculture. Peter Mathias and M.M. Postan, editors, The Cambridge Economic History of Europe,Vol. II, Part I (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1978), 31.

[25] Mark Searle, Turnpikes and Toll-Bars (London: Hutchinson & Co, 1930.), 169-170.Bottom of Form

[26] Richard Lovell Edgeworth, An Essay on the Construction of Roads and Carriages, second edition (London: R. Hunter, Successor to Mr. Johnson, 1817), 20.

[27] Ibid., 24.

[28] The Repository of Arts (Feb. 1813), 88.

[29] Thomas Faulkner and B. West, History and Antiquities of Kensington (London: T. Egerton, 1820), 587.

[30] William Wordsworth, from “Guilt and Sorrow ” in The Collected Poetry of William Wordsworth

(London: Wordsworth Editions, 1994), 26, 27.

[31] Faulkner and West, 424. 

[32] James Thomson, The Seasons,Annotated (Kindle Edition, Pelta: 2014), lines 813-120.

[33] From the 13th Discourse delivered in 1786 and published in Joshua Reynolds, The Complete Works of Sir Joshua Reynolds, First President of the Royal Academy, Vol. II (London: Thomas McLean, 1824), 98.

[34] Richard Payne Knight, An Analytical Inquiry in the Principles of Taste (London: T. Payne and J. White, 1805), 193, 194.

[35] Ibid., 194.

[36] Sir Henry Cole, Typed Transcript of Diaries, Vol. 1845, Dec. 26, 1845. Victoria and Albert Museum, London. Original spelling retained.

[37] Ibid., Vol. 1844, May 5, 1844.

[38] Hunt, The Examiner, June 27, 1813.

[39] Ibid.

[40] Hunt, The Examiner, May 30, 1813.

[41] Joseph Farington, The Diary of Joseph Farington, edited by Kenneth Garlick and Angus Macintyre, Vol. XIII (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1982), 4564.

[42] John Barrell, The Dark Side of Landscape: The Rural Poor in English Painting 1730-1840 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1980), 154.

[43] David Hill, In Turner’s Footsteps Through the Hills and Dales of Northern England (London: John Murray, 1984), 22.

[44] “Visits to Private British Galleries of the British School: The Collection of Thomas Miller Esq. of Preston” in The Art-Journal (London: James S. Virtue, February 1857), 41.

[45] Hunt, The Examiner, June 27, 1813.

[46] David Brown, The Life and Work of Sir Augustus Wall Callcott, R.A. 1779-1844, PhD Thesis (Leicester: University of Leicester, 1978), 2.

[47] Nicholas Tromans, David Wilkie, The People’s Painter (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2007), viii.

[48] Allan Cunningham and Peter Cunningham, The Life of Sir David Wilkie: With His Journals, Tours, and Critical Remarks on Works of Art; and a Selection from His Correspondence (London: J. Murray, 1843), 369.

[49] David Linnell, Blake Palmer, Linnell and Co. The Life of John Linnell (Sussex: The Book Guild, 1995), 28.

[50] Robinson’s Row does not show up on any contemporary map, but Vestry minutes document Mulready’s residence there. Vestry Minutes 1807-1815, St. Mary Abbot’s Parish. Local Studies Collection, Kensington Central Library. Linnell’s move is documented in his Autobiography and also in a memorandum of agreement with his landlord. Linnell Manuscript, 29. Memorandum of Agreement, Linnell Archive, MS 15119-2000, Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge.

[51] A.T. Story, The Life of John Linnell, Vol I (London: Richard Bentley and Son, 1892), 25.

[52] Jean Hamilton, The Sketching Society 1799-1851 (London: Victoria and Albert Museum, 1971), 9.

[53] John Lewis Roget, A History of the ‘Old Water-Colour’ Society (London: Longmans Green and Co., 1891), 390.

[54] Kathryn Moore Heleniak, William Mulready (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1980), 47.

[55] Samuel Palmer in The Letters of Samuel Palmer, edited by Raymond Lister, Volume II 1860-1881: (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1974), 912.

[56] John Linnell, Account Book, 1811. Verso 29. MS55-2000, Linnell Archives, Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge.

[57] John Linnell, Handwritten Manuscript of his Autobiography, 1882, MS. 32–2000, 34. Note: I have retained the original spelling. John Linnell Archive, Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge.

[58] Linnell, Account Book, 13, 17, 21, 25, 26, 27, 29.

[59] John Brewer, The Pleasures of the Imagination: English Culture in the Eighteenth Century (New York: Farrar Straus Giroux, 1997), 308.

[60] The title of this sketch, presumably given by Linnell, seems to refer to the Chapel in Paddington headed by Rev. Stratton. There are other references to the chapel in contemporary literature, but the date on the sketch may be off – art historians have noted that Linnell sometimes dated his sketches later and in doing so misdated them – or it could be another chapel. Rev. Stratton assumed his position in Paddington in 1818 at the age of 24.

[61] Daniel Lysons and Samuel Lysons, The Environs of London: Being an Historical Account of the Towns, Villages, and Hamlets, Within Twelve Miles of That Capital: Interspersed with Biographical Anecdotes (London: Printed for T. Cadell and W. Davies, 1811), 499.

[62] Henry Hunter, The History of London, and Its Environs (London: S. Gosnell for J. Stockdale, 1811), 72.

[63] Vestry Minutes 1807-1815, St. Mary Abbots Parish, 27. Local Studies Collection, Kensington Central Library.

[64] Dorothy George, London Life in the Eighteenth Century (New York: Harper & Row, 1965), 120.

[65] The Courier, Aug. 1 1808.

[66] Originally from Advice to the Keeper of a Turnpike Gate, Together with Useful Hints to Travellers. (London: Printed for the Religious Tract Society,1820). Reprinted in Searle,Turnpikes and Toll-Bars 164.Bottom of Form

[67] Solkin, Art in Britain 1660-1815, 277.

[68] William Gilpin, Observations on Several Parts of England, Particularly the Mountains and Lakes of Cumberland and Westmoreland relative to Picturesque Beauty (London, 1772), 44.

[69] Ibid., 45

[70] John Barrell, The Darkside of Landscape, 5.

[71] Michael Rosenthal, “The Rough and the Smooth: Rural Subjects in Later-Eighteenth-Century Art”, in Studies in British Art: Prospects for the Nation: Recent Essays in British Landscape, 1750-1880 (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1997), 50.

[72] W H, Pyne,  John C. Nattes and Samuel Gosnell, Pyne’s Microcosm:, Or, Picturesque Delineation of the Arts, Agriculture, Manufactures, &c. &c. of Great Britain: In a Series of Several Thousand Groups of Small Figures: : the Whole Accurately Drawn from Nature; and Comprising the Most Interesting Subjects in Rural and Domestic Scenery, in External and Inland Navigation, in Country Sports and Employments, in the Arts of War and Peace (London: Printed by S. Gosnell, Little Queen Street, Holborn, 1801).

[73] Barrell, The Darkside of Landscape, 134.

[74] Barringer, Men at Work, 343.

[75] The Book of Trades or Library of Useful Arts 1811, 9 in Vol. 1 and 5 in Vol II.

[76] William Dunlap and Dorothy C. Barck, Diary of William Dunlap, 1766-1839: The Memoirs of a Dramatist, Theatrical Manager, Painter, Critic, Novelist, and Historian (New York: B. Blom, 1969), 3.

[77] Ibid., 3.

[78] Alan R. Neate, The St. Marylebone Workhouse and Institution, 1730-1965 (London: St. Marylebone Society, 1967), 8.

[79] George, London Life in the Eighteenth Century, 120.

[80] Ibid., 120.

[81] Linnell, Account Book, 1811, 26.

[82] William Paley, The Principles of Moral and Political Philosophy, foreword by D.L. Le Mahieu (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2002). 5/30/2016. http://oll.libertyfund.org/titles/703#Paley_0158_23.

[83] Ibid., http://oll.libertyfund.org/titles/703#Paley_0158_343

[84] Ann Bermingham, Landscape and Ideology: The English Rustic Tradition, 1740-1860 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1986), 3.

[85] Photo of the sketchbook in Witt Library, John Linnell Archive, Courtauld Institute of Art, London.

[86] Linnell, Autobiography, 1863, 15.

[87] John Linnell, letter to his father dated Newberry, August 1815. MS. 4378-2000. John Linnell Archive, Fitzwilliam Museum.

[88] David Linnell, Blake Palmer Linnell, 266.

[89] Ibid., 25.

[90] “All that Mighty Heart”, The Burlington Magazine, Vol. CXXXIV, No. 1073 (London: August 1992), 481.

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