James W.R. Linton studied painting and architecture in London before coming to Western Australia in 1896, where he taught at the Perth Technical School and his own art school. As a watercolourist, Linton was principally interested in depicting nature defined by light. From the 1920s, he painted many landscapes of his property at Parkerville, such as Falls Road, late evening, in which he often dramatically divided the composition into light and shade, and used colour contrasts of rust against green. He applied the colour in small dabs over a densely worked surface, creating a scene radiant with light.
Linton returned to London in 1907 to study the techniques of metalwork, jewellery and enamelling, returning to Perth in 1908 highly skilled in these crafts. He became the city’s most prominent practitioner and teacher of the decorative arts, establishing a style that would be carried on by his son, Jamie Linton, and other collaborators and family members through the 20th century. Linton’s training and work was in the style of the British Arts and Crafts Movement, popular from the 1870s to the 1910s. Its tenets of simplicity, practicality and the clear expression of materials and process gave him a way to express his adopted Western Australian environment. He used its native woods, such as jarrah, for carved furniture, and silver for objects, jewellery and cutlery with designs based on the forms of Western Australian wildflowers.
Robert Bell and Anne Gray
Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra 2010
From: Anne Gray (ed), Australian art in the National Gallery of Australia, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, 2002