Drawings of William Blake Selection, Introduction and Commentary by Geoffery Keynes Head of Infant in a Bonnet
Rachel Campbell-Johnston's biography Mysterious wisdom: The Life and work of Samuel Palmer includes chapters on Blake and on Linnell who were Palmer's friends and mentors. Speaking of Blake and Linnell, Campbell-Johnston remarks:
"And yet the two men had much in common. They were both religious dissenters and political radicals; they shared a reverence for the scriptures and had both learned Hebrew and Greek; they admired the art of Michaelangelo, Durer and Van Eyck and; both the sons of tradesmen, they preferred simple manners to a smart social life. Their friendship was to span the last decade of Blake's life. They would visit each other's studios, go to plays together, dine with mutual acquaintances and gaze at pictures side by side. .." (Page 65)
Blake was a welcome visitor to Linnell's home at Cirencester Place and after the move in 1820 of Linnell's family to the country, at the Collins Farm in Hampstead. Linnell's first child Hannah was born in 1818; there would be 8 more to follow. Blake made a drawing on one of the Linnell children as an infant. In these letters is a discussion of the naming on one of the Linnell children, 'a fine boy', born in 1826. The four sons of the Linnells were named James, Thomas, William and John.
Letters, (E 778)
"[To] John Linnell Esqre Cirencester Place 5 July 1826 Dear Sir I thank you for the Receit of Five Pounds this Morning & Congratulate you on the receit of another fine Boy am glad to hear of Mrs Linnells health & safety I am getting better every hour my Plan is diet only & if the Machine is capable of it shall make an old man yet: I go on Just as If perfectly well which indeed I am except in those paroxysms which I now believe will never more return Pray let your own health & convenience put all solicitude concerning me at rest You have a Family I have none there is no comparison between our necessary avocations Believe me to be Dr Sir Yours Sincerely WILLIAM BLAKE"
Letters, (E 779)
"To John Linnell Esqre Circencester Place, Fitzroy Square Sunday Afternoon July 16--1826 [Postmark: Noon 17 Jy] Dear Sir I have been ever since taking Dr Youngs Addition to Mr Finchams Practise with me ([It]From the website for redhill-reigate-history we learn more to the child named after William Blake:
is dandelion) In a Species of Delireum & in Pain too much for Thought It is now passed as I hope But the moment I got ease of Body. began Pain of Mind [word del.] & that not a small one It is about The Name of the Child which Certainly ought to be Thomas. after Mrs Linnells Father It will be brutal not to say Worse for it is worse In my opinion <& on my Part>. Pray Reconsider it if it is not too late It very much troubles Me as a Crime in which I shall [be] [a] Principal. Pray Excuse this hasty Expostulation & believe me to be Yours Sincerely WILLIAM BLAKE"
"William, the third son of John Linnell, is said to have been named after the painter William Blake. He became a prolific and talented painter in his own right and exhibited at the Royal Academy and at other art exhibitions. He probably worked and lived more in London and abroad than at Redhill, although he did have an art school in Redhill where he taught many people to draw and paint."