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ANOTHER BLAKE WATERCOLOR CLEANED AT THE TATE GALLERY

The Tate Gallery, continuing its policy of cleaning and, where necessary, remounting and re-framing its Blakes, has just treated the large early watercolor of “Oberon, Titania and Puck with Fairies Dancing,” c. 1785-90. As can be seen from the reproduction in the second, 1971, edition of the Tate Gallery Blake catalogue, it was badly discolored with, in addition, several localized stains. The main discoloration was in the paper itself and this has been successfully bleached out and practically all of the stains removed, revealing the original delicacy and translucency of Blake’s watercolor washes. In particular, the reds are now much cooler and accord better with the exceptionally delicate blue of Titania’s dress; Oberon’s robe is now white. Also more evident is the pentimento by which Blake changed the position of Titania’s head; this was originally higher on the paper, making her tower over her consort. The first pair of eyes drawn by Blake can now be seen in the middle of her forehead and the original chaplet round her hair retains its blue coloring, whereas that in the revised position was left uncolored.

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