2. Three Bibliographical Additions
Neither the Keynes nor the Bentley-Nurmi bibliographies list an early description, with illustrations, of the Job series of engravings. W. Shaw Sparrow edited five volumes of illustrations to the Bible for Hodder and Stoughton, London, n.d. (1904-7). The second of three volumes of Old Testament designs, entitled Joshua to Job, reproduces the whole series of Blake’s engravings, with accompanying description by the Rev. J. Macartney Wilson, M.A. entitled “The Book of Job”, which occupies pages 137 to 144. Though brief, the comments are appreciative and intelligent, as can be seen by this sample:
“In the fifth picture there is still peace in the soul of Job, and he is seen giving of his poverty to a blind beggar. At either side a beautiful angel watches the scene. A bare and rocky country stretches behind, with a prehistoric stone erection instead of the Gothic temple. The sunset still lingers in the west. Below, all is peace; above, all is disquiet. Once more the Satan appears, claiming this time to touch with evil plagues the body of Job. Once more, but far more markedly than on the former occasion, the angels shrink back from him in horror. The figure of the Almighty, the face full of pain, writhes on His seat, and the halo behind Him is half-eclipsed. Below, in the margin, a hideous serpent is coiled: at the sides, angels weep over the flames that rise, but cannot extinguish them.”At the end of his comment on “When the morning Stars sang together” Wilson anticipates many reactions when he says: “Anything in Art more beautiful than these four angels, more expressive of the glory and joy of life, I do not know”.
Vol. IV of the Sparrow book, The Gospels, has “The Flight Into Egypt” (Keynes 96b), and Vol. V, The Apostles, has three of the Blair designs.
Perhaps there are several useful sales catalogues not included in the bibliographies. As they may contain reproductions not otherwise obtainable, a check-list would be helpful. One noted was put out by Chas. J. Sawyer Ltd., of London, in 1936. Catalogue of Books No. 128 has a reproduction of a pen and wash sketch called there “The Parable of the Sower”, but actually of a different subject, perhaps “Pray ye therefore the Lord of the Harvest”, related to other drawings in the Tate Gallery and the British Museum. Plate No.1, facing p.55.
Many miss the following: F. L. McCarthy,[e] “‘The Bard of Thomas Gray, its Composition and its Use by Painters”, in Cylchgrawn Llyfregell Genedlaethol Cymru, The National Library of Wales Journal XIV.i (Summer 1965), 105-113. Illustrations accompany the article reproducing work by P. J. de Loutherbourg,[e] Richard Bentley, Thomas Jones (1775), Fuseli, John Martin and Blake (the tempera).