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 Frank Benton Ashley Linton  (1871 - 1943)

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Lived/Active: Pennsylvania      Known for: portrait, landscape and genre painting, sculpture

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Ad Code: 4
Frank Ashley Linton
from Auction House Records.
Portrait of Ruth St. Denis
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
The following information was submitted by  Michael Ditizio:

The information was located on Al's Philadelphia Biographies.

The art of portraiture has no more celebrated exponent today than Frank Benton Ashley Linton of Philadelphia, whose consummate gifts, revealed in scores of brilliant portraits, have enriched American art. In his career he has climbed the pinnacle of international fame and established his reputation as one of the master painters of the present generation.

Ancestral background has played a part in his success. In the best sense of the term he is well-born, tracing his descent from English, Irish and Scottish forebears, distinguished for their high place and intellectual and artistic attainments, back to the House of Stuart, Kings of Scotland and the reigning sovereigns of Great Britain. The American progenitor was James Linton, who was graduated from Oxford University with the highest honors, and ordained a minister of the Church of England and soon installed in a prosperous church. About this time the Quakers were beginning their work in England. Out of curiosity, the Anglican clergyman, James Linton, attended a Quaker meeting and became a convert to that faith. As a result he was disinherited by his elder brother, Sir Roger Linton, the head of the family, a noted peer. Without home or money, James Linton entered the Society of Friends, and apprenticed himself to a cabinetmaker in order that he might have some means of earning a livelihood. Not long afterwards he emigrated to Holland and as soon as possible took ship for the New World, settling in the Quaker colony of Pennsylvania. His first home in America was on Pine Street in Philadelphia. Later he moved to Horsham, Pennsylvania, where he met and married Rebecca Raff, an Episcopalian, and for so doing was promptly read out of Quaker meeting, returning to the Episcopal faith. He and his wife are both buried in old St. Peter's Churchyard.

James Linton was the great-great-grandfather of Frank Benton Ashley Linton. A later James Linton, born in 1804, was his grandfather. Edwin Ruthvan Linton, father of the artist, was born at Horsham on June 15, 1830, and died in December, 1894. He became one of the outstanding builders in Philadelphia, erecting many important structures, including the City Hall. Edwin Ruthvan Linton married Sarah Piper.

Their son, Frank Benton Ashley Linton was born in Philadelphia on February 26, 1871. He received his general education in the Philadelphia public schools and when his great gifts became apparent at an early age he resolved to devote his career to art, following the example of his distinguished ancestor, Sir James Linton, who was one of Britain's celebrated painters. Sir James Linton achieved to enviable honor of election to president of the Royal Academy of London.

In his 'teens, Frank B. A. Linton studied for five years with Thomas Eakins. At nineteen he went to Paris, where he became a pupil of Gerome and Bonnat at the École des Beaux-Arts and of Benjamin-Constant, Jean Paul Laurens and Bouguereau at the Academie Julien. His claims to serious consideration, particularly in portraiture and figure work, were soon recognized and at the age of twenty-three he was awarded the silver medal for his exhibit at the American Art Exhibition. His first portrait hung in Paris, that of Dr. J. L. Borsch of Philadelphia, won for him enormous acclaim.

It was in portraiture that Mr. Linton laid the basis of his present international reputation. He has painted many well known figures, among them William L. Austin, president of the Baldwin Locomotive Works; Rufus B. Weaver, Dean of Hahnemann Medical College; Dr. Jennings, the Johns Hopkins biologist; Dr. Clarence Bartlett; Dr. J. C. Wilson; Dr. William H. Green; Mr. and Mrs. Dolfinger and many others. He has also painted many notables of France, where his attainments have been highly valued since his student days. He has exhibited at all the important art exhibitions in America and was especially invited to give a one-man exhibition at the Corcoran Art Gallery in Washington, District of Columbia, where an entire gallery was placed at his disposal. He has been represented in the Knoedler Art Gallery in New York City, the Peabody Institute in Baltimore and in December, 1939, gave a one-man show at the Reading Art Museum by special invitation, at which about forty of his paintings were hung. Until 1938 he regularly exhibited two portraits, the maximum permitted any painter, at the Paris Salon.

Mr. Linton's facility and versatility, which have often been remarked, are only superficial aspects of his art, which is profound in its inspiration and superlative in its expression. He is not only a brilliant draftsman and colorist, a master of the brush but also possesses the keen psychological insight, which is the hallmark of genius in portraiture, and a freshness of outlook which reflects the rare quality of his creative imagination and lends individuality to his work. Among present-day artists his gifts are unsurpassed and they have won for him the highest honors in the world of art. Mr. Linton's paintings have taken medals and awards on numerous occasions and in 1927 he was signally honored when his picture, "La Dernière Retouche," won the Gold Medal of the Paris Salon and was acquired by the French Government for the galleries of the Luxembourg. In the following year he won the coveted decoration of "Officier de Academie," admitting him to the Royal Order originated by Napoleon I, sometimes termed the "Palms of France." Mr. Linton is also a member of the Internationale Union des Beaux-arts et Lettres, to which only one member in the entire world is elected each year. He received this honor in 1913, when his name was enrolled among the illustrious greats comprising the membership of the Internationale Union des Beaux-Arts et Lettres, including such personages as Kipling, Rodin, Degas, Anatole France, Renoir and many more.

In this country, Mr. Linton is a member of the Philadelphia Art Club, and the New York Society of Pennsylvania. He has always taken an active interest in the affairs of the city in which his career has centered, and the world-wide recognition which has come to him as an artist has also reflected on the cultural life of Philadelphia which he so conspicuously represents.

Following is a transcription on an article that was featured in The Evening Bulletin, Philadelphia,  PA Sunday, August 4th, 1945.

"Portrait Painter Dies Insolvent"
Most of Frank Linton's Works sold to Pay Creditors
Frank B. A. Linton, widely known Philadelphia artist, who in the Hey-Day of his career, got from $5,000 to $10,000 for a portrait, died insolvent.  Most of his accumulation of paintings and rarities have been sold to pay creditors.

The sequel to his death on November 15, 1943 has the moving of all of his belongings to the auction rooms from his home and studio at 2037 Delancey St., Orphans Court records of his estate showed today.

From the proceeds of the sale about $8,500 is now on hand to distribute among friends and others who assisted Linton in his latter days.  Their claims aggregate between $10,000 and $12,000.  One of his friends, David D. Rose, advanced $379 to pay Linton's funeral directed that claim be paid in full as a preferred one.   Linton's housekeeper and others with general claims will share pro rata in the balance.

Picturesque Figure
Linton, a picturesque figure in art circles, was well past 70 when he died.  He had been a pupil of Thomas Eakins, the noted painter.  Two of Eakins' portraits were in Linton's possession when he died.  One, an oil painting by Thomas Eakins of Linton, was signed and dated 1904, and inscribed on the back of the canvas, "To my pupil, Frank B. M. Linton. Thomas Eakins."  It was appraised at $850.

The claims before judge-Hunter included Ridia Hearn, of Baltimore, a friend of Linton.  She asked repayment of a $450 loan made to the artist.

Miss Hearn suggested that four of Linton's paintings still undisposed of be turned over to her at their appraised value of $95 in settlement of her claim.  They include a portrait of Samuel Myers, a painting entitled Salome, another titled Moment Musicale and another titled Peonies.

Joseph S. Kleinbard, attorney for the estate was told that Miss Hearn "is anxious to see that Linton's works are perpetuated in the hands of collectors" and intends to turn over the four items to museums.

"Many people" said Miss Kleinbard. have suggested the value (of the four paintings) might be as high as $10,000 at a future date.  This man's paintings have not had the commercial value of other painters."

None of the legatees under Linton's will, including the Pennsylvania Museum of Art, receive any of the specific bequests made by his testament.  Some of the paintings he had at death valued at thousands of dollars, attorneys said.  Many were sold at auction for a few dollars.  The sale of the artist's effects lasted six days, at the rooms of Samuel T. Freeman & Co. and realized about $10,000.

Some of the legatees and claimants objected to the haphazard disposal of Linton's possessions, but were notified of the auction and the necessity for it, counsel explained.  One claimant was unable to locate a French medal, said to have been highly prized by Linton, whose paintings have been highly honored in France where he exhibited annually for many years.  He painted portraits of many distinguished persons, among them General Pershing, Ruth St. Dennis, the dancer, Admiral Benson and D. Cardinal Dougherty.

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