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Anne Langton - Gentlewoman, Pioneer Settler and Artist: The Early Years - Page Banner

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Anne Langton was born in 1804, into an aristocratic family at Farfield Hall, in the picturesque Yorkshire Dales. When Anne was just a few months old, the family moved to Lancashire. She was raised at Blythe Hall, an elegant mansion, near Ormskirk.

With brothers William and John, Anne was educated at home by their parents, Thomas and Ellen, and private tutors, and raised according to upper class standards of her times. Such standards included the emerging cultural and social concept of "the gentlewoman," an unofficial code which defined the characteristics of upper and middle-class females.

Farfield [Hall, North Yorkshire], 183-(?)
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Farfield [Hall, North Yorkshire], [ca. 1834]
Anne Langton
Graphite on cream wove paper
Reference Code: F 1077-9-1-19-3
Archives of Ontario, I0008470

While it would be an oversimplification to claim that all members of the upper and gentry classes observed the code to the same degree, certain characteristics were widely regarded as governing the essential 'masculine' and 'feminine' natures, behaviours and roles in general: A gentlewoman was: unselfish, modest, passive, decorous, dependent; in contrast her "male" counterpart was defined as "naturally" active, assertive, ambitious, self-realizing. In art practice, gender often determined choice of genre, scale, media, support and intended audience. Male artists usually worked in socially important genres: historical subjects, or portraiture on large scale, in oils on canvas, for exhibition and sale.

Women most often worked on small scale, in so-called "feminine" genres of miniature portrait painting; flower painting; still life; landscape sketching on paper (in graphite and/or pen & ink/watercolour). Their equipment was thus less "messy" and easier to transport than easels, oils and large sketchbooks.

For the most part, Anne Langton's life and art practice developed along the implied "feminine" course.

Blythe Hall (parts of which dated back to the twelfth century), was the country mansion where Anne and her brothers spent their idyllic early childhood.

It became the family's "ideal" home. They would carry the image of Blythe Hall with them emotionally wherever they went and, to some degree, tried to re-create it physically, when they settled in Upper Canada, some years later. This image is a preliminary sketch dated September 2nd, 1834.

Blythe Hall,, Lancashire, England [c. 182?]
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Blythe Hall, Lancashire, England, 1834
Anne Langton
Graphite on cream wove paper
Reference Code: F 1077-9-1-19-1
Archives of Ontario, I0008468

" I have heard a great deal about the first year we spent [at Blythe Hall], which must have been one of extreme discomfort...[T]he house...was found to be in a most dilapidated condition, full of dry rot and all sorts of decay. Every floor had to be relaid, and my parents had to migrate from one room to another whilst each was being put into habitable order. It seemed an almost hopeless task ... finally I must say their success was perfect, for never was there a more comfortable, fresh-looking home."

Anne Langton
(SOF, 4)

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In 1815, when Anne was eleven, life at Blythe was halted when Thomas took his family on an extended European "Grand Tour" to expand the children's awareness, through arts, languages, literatures, travel.