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Destruction of the Children of Niobe
The Trustees of the British Museum
William James Linton after Wilson
Destruction of the Children of Niobe
1857, published 1860
Wood-engraving on chine collé
143 x 200 mm
5 5/8 x 7 7/8 in.
1870,0813.405
E86
Niobe can be seen kneeling in a clearing below the rocks in an overcast landscape, her arm around her youngest daughter, looking up and defying Latona. Latona sits in the clouds upper left, watching her son Apollo avenge her for the Theban Queen's boast that she was richer in her fourteen children than the goddess in her two. Apollo draws his bow to strike down another of the children, eight of whom are grouped near their mother, dead, grieving and dying, while a ninth tries, in vain, to flee on horseback across a bridge to left.
Donated by the Art Union of London, 1870
Lettered below the image: 'WILSON.' 'NO. XXIII.' Lettered within block at right with production detail: 'W. J. Linton 1857'
D355 Richard Wilson (1713/14-1782), Figure Study for Niobe, National Museum Wales, Cardiff
E52 William Sharp (1749-1824) and Samuel Smith (1745-1810), Niobe, National Museum Wales, Cardiff
E54 William Sharp and Samuel Smith Niobe, Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection, New Haven
E79/1 Samuel Lacey after Wilson, Niobe, The British Museum
P90B Richard Wilson (1713/14-1782), The Destruction of Niobe's Children, ex-National Gallery (destroyed) and other versions
This print was no. 23 in the series Thirty Pictures by deceased British Artists, a set of thirty wood-engravings by Linton, executed for the Art-Union of London and published in 1860.
Thirty Pictures by deceased British Artists engraved expressly for the Art-Union of London by W.J. Linton, 1860, no. XXIII; F.B. Smith, Radical Artisan: William James Linton, 1812-97, 1973
William James Linton (1812-1897) was a wood-engraver and radical writer. In 1842 he joined with his former employer John Orrin Smith to found Smith and Linton. The firm collapsed in 1848, Linton began illustrating natural history books and moved to the Lake District. He later returned to London and set up a new engraving business with Harvey Orrin Smith. From 1859 to 1860 he is recorded at 33 Essex Street, Strand. Linton worked as one of the engravers for Edward Moxon's famous illustrated edition of Tennyson's Poems (1857) and engraved Rossetti's designs for Christina Rossetti's Goblin Market (1865). In 1866 he moved to America and taught engraving at the Cooper Institute, becoming a member of the National Academy of Design in 1882. He gave many of his prints to the British Museum.
The Art Union was founded in 1837 and existed to promote art by distributing specially-commissioned works by means of a lottery among its members. In order to maximise the number of works available, it soon entered print publishing in a large way, despite objections from established publishers.
The Art Union Monthly Journal, was founded in 1839 and in 1848 the London publisher George Virtue bought into it, renaming it the Art Journal in 1849. The periodical presented a group of its publications to the British Museum in 1870, of which the present wood engraving is one.