William Hincks was an established 18 century portrait painter, engraver and miniature artist from Waterford in Ireland. One of his most well known works is a series of exquisite drawings depicting Irish Linen manufacture in the North of Ireland. It illustrates the process in all its different stages from sowing the seed to the arrival of the webs at the Linen Hall. He engraved these in stipple (a timely method of shading in small dots) and they were published in London in 1782. The set of 12 plates consists of…

Sowing the flax seed and harrowing/ploughing -  view near Scarva, County Down

Pulling the flax, tooking or putting it up to dry, ripling and boging or burying it in water - view near Hillsborough, County Down

Taking the flax out of the bog, spreading it to dry, stoving, beetling and breaking it - view in County Louth

Beetling, scutching and hackling the flax

A scutch mill, showing the method of breaking the flax with grooved rollers

Spinning, reeling with the clock reel and boiling the yarn

Winding, warping and weaving

Weavers holding up their pieces of linen to view with the bleachers elevated on forms examining its quality - Brown Linen Market in Banbridge, County Down

Scene of all the machinery of a bleach mill

A bleach green, showing the methods of wet and dry bleaching - County Down

A lapping room, measuring, crisping or folding the cloth in lengths

The Linen Hall in Dublin showing boxes and bales ready for exportation of the finished product

They are well loved and prints can often be found in auction houses, so keep a look out.

Katie Larmour