John Lane was the founder of the famous London publishing firm The Bodley Head. The company was named after famous Devonian Sir Thomas Bodley, the diplomat, scholar and founder of the Bodleian Library, Oxford, who was born at Exeter in 1545.

The publishing firm’s most famous production was The Yellow Book, an illustrated quarterly initially edited by artist Aubrey Beardsley.

Lane was a Devon man and a born antiquary who collected “any and every historical relic that came into his hand”.

On Lane’s death in 1925 he bequeathed his entire collection to RAMM, which although it included some ceramics and paintings, is predominantly of drawings, watercolours and prints, all of which relate to his beloved Devon.

Any collection formed by a private individual has its own particular hallmark or character. The vast majority of John Lane’s collection consists of prints. This may be due to his own close association with the industry, as a publisher. The 18th and early 19th century mezzotints and stipple engravings held a very strong appeal for him.

The collection is particularly strong in fine 18th-century and early 19th-century.

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