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Anne Langton - Gentlewoman, Pioneer Settler and Artist: Britain - 1821-1837 - Page Banner

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Returning to England in 1821, the Langtons sold Blythe Hall, abruptly withdrew from society and moved to a small townhouse in Liverpool where they now kept only one servant. Anne, at sixteen, took on most of the housekeeping and soon began to care for her aging parents and aunt, and assist with housekeeping. Whenever possible, she pursued her art practice and training.

In 1826, "a fearful commercial crisis" occurred in Britain and other parts of Europe. In 1879, Anne Langton recalled this difficult time in her family memoir:

" .. I have paused some time in my writing, partly perhaps with a little shrinking from all that must now be recorded, the painful events of 1826. It opened with a fearful commercial crisis; there was seldom a day that some important failure was not reported ...."

Anne Langton
(SOF, 40)

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[First Langton family] home at Bootle, Lancashire, [182?]
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[First Langton family] home at
Bootle, Lancashire, [182-?]
Anne Langton
Graphite on cream wove paper
Reference Code: F 1077-9-1-19-4
Archives of Ontario, I0008471

Following Thomas's latest financial losses, the family moved to Bootle, a small spa town, a few miles north of Liverpool and into a smaller, semi-detached house. Anne later wrote in her memoir: "In our house at Bootle we came down to one female servant, and still more rigid economies" (SOF, 41).

This image shows Langton's increasing confidence in her artistic abilities. Her drafting skills are now well developed. She makes good use of "negative" space to suggest the front railings, the transparency of the window panes, and the texture of the low brick wall.

Both myself (detail), 1826
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Both myself (detail), 1826
Anne Langton
Graphite on cream wove paper
Reference Code: F 1077-7-3-1-13
Archives of Ontario, I0008305

This pen and ink sketch and the final, fully worked-up, miniature version in watercolour on ivory, were created in the same year that Thomas Langton became virtually bankrupt, most likely just prior to the financial collapse.

Executed in the tradition of "self-portrait as an artist" (mostly by male artists), this image attests both to Langton's seriousness in practising her art and to an inner conflict: the modest gentlewoman presumes to place herself on the same working level as a professional male artist, but does so privately. The final version, also dated 1826 (private collection in Canada) is one of Langton's early self-portraits.

This somewhat stylized drawing suggests that Langton received training from landscape artist James Ward, R.A., who gave lessons in Liverpool and North Wales during the 1820s. It is inscribed (verso) "drawing done under Mr. Ward."

[Landscape] 182-(?)
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[Landscape] [182-?]
Anne Langton
Watercolour over graphite on
cream wove paper
Reference Code: F 1077-9-1-33
Archives of Ontario, I0008422

" I must say a few words respecting the daughter. No doubt if there had been more of us [daughters], we must have made some effort to turn our education to account ... Still in following my favourite art, I always had it in mind that some day or other I might look to it for a livelihood, and as my pencil was often employed for the benefit of others, I once urged my father to allow me to make it profitable as far as I could; but at that time he had reasons which he stated for not giving his consent. A year or two afterwards, however, he overcame his objections, and I painted likenesses, charging for them."

Anne Langton
(SOF, 44)

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In addition to continuing with her art training during the 1820s, Langton had access to private art collections throughout the '20s and '30s, for the purpose of copying works by Old Masters. Some of these collections were owned by relatives, others by wealthy friends whom they had met during their European travels.

But her main source of material, practice and experience for landscape sketching was gained through extensive tours throughout Britain.

Near Bryn Ganno
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Near Bryn Ganno [North Wales], [ca. 1834]
Anne Langton
Graphite on cream wove paper
Reference Code: F 1077-8-1-10-22
Archives of Ontario, I0008532

Anne usually stayed with, or was accompanied by, relatives or close friends. The fruits of a tour in Scotland and Wales during the mid-'30s, are contained in a sketchbook of that name. The image to the right above is one of several views in "scenic" North Wales, a relatively unpopulated area, that was reasonably accessible to travellers from Liverpool and other parts of northwestern England. It is probably the closest Anne came to "wild" landscape prior to encountering the genuine North American "wilderness."