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BLAKE ON EXHIBITION

The Age of Neo-Classicism, the fourteenth Exhibition of the Council of Europe that was held in London from 9 September to 19 November 1972, included eight pictures by Blake, as compared to twenty-two items by Flaxman besides sculpture, thirteen by Fuseli, and ten by Romney. Here was an opportunity to show some seldom-seen Blakes, such as the Arlington Court picture, but the organizers of this part of the Exhibition seem to have had trouble getting out of London. Seven of the Blakes were loaned by the British Museum, one by the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge. And one of the eight, “Letho Similis,” is almost certainly not by Blake. The catalogue notes that the authorship “has been disputed” but “was accepted as Blake’s work by Binyon.” It would be interesting to know whether any reputable scholar would agree today, and even more interesting to learn why this undistinguished drawing of disputed origin was selected at all. The catalogue entries, numbers 506-513 (pp. 310-14), add nothing to the existing literature on these pictures. “Male Nude” and “The Judgment of Paris” are reproduced as plates 91 and 92. It is a pity that in an exhibition of begin page 5 | back to top such great scope and magnitude Blake could not have been represented more intelligently. Paradoxically, visitors to the British Council exhibition in Paris (see Blake Newsletter 19, p. 163) saw a far more interesting selection of Blake pictures. Though there were only twelve, they were chosen from nine different collections and represented a much more characteristic range of Blake’s art.

Original Printmaking in Britain, 1600-1900 was held 2 November-1 December 1972 at P. and D. Colnaghi and Co. The Blakes, with their prices, were

No. 108 Job, pl. ix (3rd state of 3, Binyon 114), £240
No. 111 “The Fly” from Songs of Experience (Binyon 219), £1,200
No. 112 “Enoch” lithograph (Keynes 14), £5,000
No. 127 “The Canterbury Pilgrims” (posthumous impression, 4th state of 5, Keynes 17), £120

This superb exhibition and fine catalogue included, with minor exceptions, only prints designed and executed by the same artist. The prices of numbers 111 and 112 are not typographical errors!—and all had been sold by the third day of the exhibition. “The Fly” is reproduced as plate xxv, “Enoch” as plate xxvii.

The Art of Drawing is the title of this winter’s exhibition in the splendid new gallery of the British Museum’s Department of Prints and Drawings. The show is magnificent, featuring both Oriental and Western material—an enormous Raphael cartoon and sketches by Leonardo among other things. There are two Blakes, “Jacob’s Ladder” and a Dante illustration.

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