Tate Britain Reveals Nine New Blakes and Thirteen New Lines of Verse
IN 1996*↤ *Above all we must thank the two owners of these works for lending them
to Tate Britain, allowing them to be placed on exhibition there, and letting us study and publish them. We are
also most grateful to Stephen Calloway, Curator of Prints, Victoria & Albert Museum, who when consulted
about the eight new prints from the Small Book of Designs generously forwarded the inquiry
to Robin Hamlyn at Tate Britain.
At Tate we are particularly grateful to Gerry Alabone, Head of Frame Conservation, Rodney Tidnam, Photographer, Piers Townshend, Head of Paper Conservation, Rachel Crome, also of Paper Conservation, and Julia Beaumont-Jones, Curator, Clore Study Room. We are especially indebted to Annie Lyles, Curator, Tate Britain, who has helped clarify a number of details for this article.
We are also most grateful to our colleagues in other museums: Jane Munro, Craig Hartley, Peter Greenhalgh, and Elenor Ling at the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge; David Pearson, Director, University of London Library Research Services; Anna Lou Ashby, Andrew W. Mellon Curator of Printed Books, Morgan Library & Museum, New York; Greg Jecman, Division of Prints and Drawings, National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC; and Julie L. Mellby, Graphic Arts Curator, Rare Books and Special Collections, Harvey F. Firestone Library, Princeton University.
Among the William Blake fraternity we must thank G. E. Bentley, Jr., and Robert N. Essick for their most welcome suggestions, corrections, and new information.
We also owe our warmest thanks to Selma Ross-Smith, who collated the products of two word processors and did much of the preliminary and final typescript. Robert Essick’s invaluable annual feature “Blake in the Marketplace” reported the sale of a page from Blake’s Small Book of Designs and added, “To have two further prints also from copy B of A Small Book of Designs become available in the same year is enough to make a Blake collector’s head spin.”1↤ 1. Essick, “Blake in the Marketplace, 1995” 108; the three prints referred to are discussed below in tables 2 and 3. Despite the exciting reappearance of the nineteen watercolor illustrations to The Grave in 2001, that of eight, or rather seven definite and one possible, new pages from copy B of the Small Book of Designs in 2007 will not, one hopes, make him lose his head entirely. These, and a second copy of the rare first state of the large Job engraving of, almost certainly, 1793, were included in the Tate’s exhibition in commemoration of Blake’s 250th birthday anniversary, “I still go on / Till the Heavens and Earth are gone” (3 November 2007-22 June 2008). The fact that all these works are products of the mid-1790s points to one of the great paradoxes of Blake’s career, the contrast between the large neoclassical prints advertised to the public in Blake’s prospectus of 10 October 1793 and the completely personal images and techniques of the illustrations to his illuminated books of 1793-94.
The earliest of these new discoveries is one of Blake’s grandest but most traditional examples of his neoclassical style aimed at the general public: an impression, only the second known, of the first state of his large Job engraving, acquired by the present owner at a south London market. Unlike the other example, on loan from the Keynes Family Trust to the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge,2↤ 2. See Essick, Separate Plates 17, no. 1A, illus. 7. this impression has no inscriptions on the surviving area of margin below the intact image; in addition, it is on laid paper rather than wove. The image measures 1325⁄32 × 195⁄16 in. (35.0 × 49.1 cm.) and is on irregularly trimmed paper approximately 163⁄16 × 23¼ in. (41.1 × 59.0 cm.) mounted on canvas, itself on a wooden stretcher 1327⁄32 × 1919⁄32 in. (35.1 × 49.8 cm.). The frame seems to be early to mid-nineteenth century; its back is inscribed upper left in pencil with what appears to be the name “Bennett”, possibly followed by two further letters. “Bennett” as a surname found in his family is noted in two of Samuel Palmer’s letters. It is tempting to consider a Palmer connection with the so far unknown provenance of this Job. The paper is somewhat dis-|colored, but the printing is perhaps sharper and clearer than in the Keynes copy.
The impression of the first state of Job belonging to the Keynes Family Trust is inscribed below the image “Painted and Engraved by William Blake” and with the title “Job”. There is a space of 2 mm. between the bottom edge of the image and the top edge of the “P” in “Painted” in the signature line lettering and a space of 4 mm. to the bottom edge of the “d” in the same first word. On the newly discovered impression the width of the loosely pasted-down paper margin from the bottom edge of the image round to the short edge of the stretcher is 9⁄16 in. (1.4 cm.): the lack of any trace of the inscription below the image in a space greater than that on the Keynes print suggests that the new copy is a proof before letters.
The second state of Job is dated “1793” while that of its companion Ezekiel is dated “1794”.3↤ 3. Essick, Separate Plates 17-19, nos. 2B, C, and D, illus. 8 for Job; 21-22, nos. 2A, B, and C, illus. 12 for Ezekiel. Given Blake’s highly individual approach to the dating of his works, Essick argues convincingly that these dates are in fact those of the first states (no first state is known for Ezekiel, but its existence is presumed from the case of Job). The dated, second states could have been executed at any time after about 1804, perhaps as late as 1819. The first state of Job seems to be listed in Blake’s prospectus as “1. Job, a Historical Engraving. Size 1 ft. 7½ in. by 1 ft. 2 in.[49.5 × 35.5 cm.]: price 12s.” Blake does not specify Ezekiel though he does list “two large highly finished engravings (and two more are nearly ready) ....”4↤ 4. Essick, Separate Plates 19; Erdman (hereafter “E”) 693, 692.begin page 53 | begin page 54 |
Both Job and Ezekiel are based closely on drawings of about 1785, nearly ten years before the probable dates of their first publication.5↤ 5. Butlin, Paintings and Drawings 61-64, #162-66, pls. 199-203; Essick, Separate Plates 20, 22, illus. 9-11, 13-14; for a further drawing, now in a US private collection, see Butlin, “Six New Early Drawings by William Blake and a Reattribution,” Blake 23.2 (fall 1989): 111 and illus. 7 (recto) (four of the works illustrated in this article, illus. 1, 3, 4, and 5, are now recognized as the work of John Flaxman). The unqualified and highly accomplished neoclassicism of the prints is surprising, given that they appear to be contemporary with Blake’s most revolutionary development in both style and technique in the illuminated books of the mid-1790s, in particular The First Book of Urizen of 1794 with its use of color printing to increase the impact of its newly dramatic and often horrific imagery. At the same time the pictorial elements in the books began to dominate the texts. In 1796 Blake produced a number of his book illustrations as separate works in the Small and Large Books of Designs: illustrations from Urizen, The Book of Thel, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, and Visions of the Daughters of Albion were color printed by Blake for Ozias Humphry to make ↤ 6. Letter to Dawson Turner, 9 June 1818 (E 771); for the Books of Designs see Butlin, Paintings and Drawings 132-45.
a selection from the different Books of such as could be Printed without the Writing tho to the Loss of some of the best things. For they when Printed perfect accompany Poetical Personifications & Acts without which Poems they never could have been Executed.6The other eight new discoveries on view at the Tate are all candidates for the second copy of the Small Book of Designs, printed like the first in 1796 though tidied up at about the time of Blake’s letter to Dawson Turner of 9 June 1818.7↤ 7. For the evidence that both copies of the Small Book of Designs were color printed in 1796, see Viscomi, Blake and the Idea of the Book 303-04, and “Blake’s ‘Annus Mirabilis’” 75 (this important article appeared while our own article was in draft, and could not therefore be fully considered). The evidence relies on the date of the Urizen title page in the second copy of the Small Book of Designs having been altered from 1794 to 1796. However, as this alteration, in ink, was almost certainly done at the same time as the design was tidied up, similarly in ink, in about 1818, it is just possible that Blake misremembered the year.
The first copy of the Small Book of Designs numbers twenty-three pages,8↤ 8. British Museum 1856-2-9-425/447; Bindman, Graphic Works nos. 289-311, illus.; Butlin, Paintings and Drawings #260, pls. 308-30. while the eleven pages from the second book recorded up to 1981 bear numbers ranging from “9” to “22”, suggesting a total of much the same, though three of the subjects from the second copy of the Small Book of Designs do not appear in the first copy.9↤ 9. Bindman, Graphic Works nos. 289a-314, two illus.; Butlin, Paintings and Drawings #261, pls. 350-60 (those subjects not in the first copy are #261.9-11). Two further examples from the second copy have turned up since 1981 (table 2), one possibly replacing the print previously thought to be from that copy, and four examples have changed hands (table 3). Most share the same characteristic features with the new discoveries: first, a series of framing lines typical also of certain late copies of Blake’s illuminated books;10↤ 10. Viscomi, Blake and the Idea of the Book 303, 311-12, 334-36. second, one or two lines of verse written in ink and idiosyncratically framed by double inverted commas on both lines; and third, a series of matching stabholes in the left-hand margin showing that they were all once bound together (works that have been trimmed necessarily lack some or all of these features, though in a few cases verses written on the verso probably reflect those originally to be seen on the recto).11↤ 11. Butlin, Paintings and Drawings #261.4, 10.
Of the eight new color prints (table 1) all but the last, Urizen pl. 12, correspond to pages in the first copy of the Small Book of Designs, and all but the last share the verses in ink and the stabholes.12↤ 12. Such stabholes are the result of a relatively small number of pages having been bound together with thread to make up, say, a pamphlet or a small book of verse (we are grateful for advice on stabholes from David Pearson). In the newly discovered pages the upper stabhole is distanced from the top of the sheet at approximately 3¼ in. (8.2 cm.), with two further holes below, 1½ and 1¾ in. (3.9 and 4.4 cm.) apart; there is a further hole about 3⁄32 in. (0.2 cm.) to the right and slightly lower than the last main hole. The same arrangement of stabholes can be seen in Butlin, Paintings and Drawings #261.1, 2, 5, 6, 8, and 11, and the pull of The Marriage of Heaven and Hell pl. 20 listed in table 2 (see Bentley, Blake Books 357, and “William Blake and His Circle, 1995” 140). There are also pinholes, perhaps to hang the prints unframed on a wall, on the new pulls numbered “6”, “7”, and “10”. Not counting any lines immediately around the image, there are three framing lines around the designs numbered “1”, “4”, “5”, “8”, and “9”, four around “6” and “7”, and two around “10”. The wide area between the first and second lines on “9”, counting from the inner line, is tinted with a pale yellow watercolor wash; similar bands of delicate coloring between two of the framing lines occur on two of the already known pages of the second copy of the Small Book of Designs, in pale yellow on Urizen pl. 1 (Butlin, Paintings and Drawings #261.1) and in pale blue on Urizen pl. 22 (Butlin, Paintings and Drawings #261.11). Similar bands of pale washes of watercolor in various colors appear in copy V of Songs of Innocence and of Experience, watermarked 1818 (Morgan Library, New York; Bentley, Blake Books 369, 422; Essick, “Blake in the Marketplace, 1995” 110 [caption to illus. 2]). However, they lack the numbers in ink of the previously known examples; these are replaced by a different set of numbers in pencil in the lower right-hand corner, one of which, “9”, duplicates one of the ink numbers. This suggests that, although the pages from the second copy of the Small Book of Designs were bound together with the previously known prints at one time, they were subsequently separated and renumbered. In the case of one of the prints known already it has been suggested that an ink number may have been erased.13↤ 13. Urizen pl. 10 in the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University, New Haven (Butlin, Paintings and Drawings #261.6).
Another common feature of most of the new pulls, and of those other pulls about which we have been able to obtain information, is that when they are of the same subjects as those in the first copy of the Small Book of Designs, they are second pulls (or perhaps, rarely, third pulls) and were more heavily printed, as is revealed by the embossing on the versos; this was presumably done to compensate for the fact that much of the begin page 55 | colored pigment had already gone on first pulls. This feature has already been noticed by Bentley on a page from the putative second copy of the Large Book of Designs in the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne.14↤ 14. Urizen pl. 21; see Bentley, “The Shadow of Los,” illus. 1 and 2. Pages from the second copy of the Small Book of Designs where embossing follows heavy printing include most of the new discoveries. The Tate’s copy of Urizen pl. 2 (Butlin, Paintings and Drawings #261.5) shows little embossing but seems to have been flattened during conservation treatment.
Also interesting, in view of the recent controversy over the technique of the color-printed books, is the fact that it would seem that there is no actual printing in ink of the outlines from the relief-etched plates in the new pulls. This use of color printing on its own was probably developed in The Book of Ahania, The Book of Los, and The Song of Los, all dated 1795, and in the large color prints of “1795.”15↤ 15. Viscomi, “Blake’s ‘Annus Mirabilis’” 63-64, 71, 79-81.
All the new prints save one, Urizen pl. 17, numbered “8”, are inscribed on the back with the statement “This Coloured Print by Wm. Blake / was given to me by his Widow / Frederick Tatham / Sculptor.”, an inscription also found on the copy of the title page from Urizen now on loan from the Keynes Family Trust to the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge.16↤ 16. Butlin, Paintings and Drawings #261.1, pl. 350. This is numbered “3” in pencil lower right in the same way as the new discoveries and therefore belongs to this new subseries. The fact that the prints are separately inscribed suggests that they were, at this point, not bound together.
One of the previously known prints seems to have belonged to John Giles, Samuel Palmer’s cousin and one of the “Ancients” who gathered around Palmer at Shoreham, and another perhaps to John Varley.17↤ 17. Butlin, Paintings and Drawings #261.5, 3. The provenance of the others cannot be traced earlier than the late nineteenth or early twentieth centuries save for Urizen pl. 3, a note on the back of which states that it was sold “by either Mrs. Blake or a relation of hers . . . to E. Daniels, 53 Mortimer Street”;18↤ 18. Butlin, Paintings and Drawings #261.4. at a stretch, the “relation” could have been Frederick Tatham, who acted as Mrs. Blake’s unofficial executor. It is therefore probable that the original collection of prints forming the second copy was split up before or soon after her death on 18 October 1831.
In various ways the last of the newly discovered pages, showing Urizen pl. 12 and numbered “10”, differs from the other seven, though it also bears the inscription on the back about Mrs. Blake’s having given it to Frederick Tatham and shares the same recent provenance. There are no stabholes and only two framing lines, and the line of verse below is written within the framing lines in pencil rather than in ink outside the lines, and without the usual double quotation marks. The subject does not appear in the first copy of the Small Book of Designs, though two other copies do exist, one hitherto having been itself associated with the second copy. That copy, in the Morgan Library, New York,19↤ 19. Butlin, Paintings and Drawings #261.10, pl. 359. Unlike Bentley (“William Blake and His Circle, 2007” 14n43), we think that the Morgan copy of Urizen pl. 12 is more likely to have been that originally bound as part of copy B of the Small Book of Designs than the newly discovered impression with its lack of stabholes and its verse line in pencil within its first and second ink framing lines. is trimmed but bears an inscription on the back reading “I labour upwards into / futurity / Blake”; this bears no relation to the text on the new copy, “The floods overwhelmed me”. The third copy is in the British Museum, London.20↤ 20. Butlin, Paintings and Drawings #280, pl. 379. It is difficult to be certain in which order these were color printed, though the newly discovered copy is probably the last.
It has long been realized that, when Blake returned to reprinting his earlier books in 1818, he laid more stress on the pictorial element: color was often deployed over the whole page, not applied just to the designs, and both text and design were often united by the use of framing lines. The first copies of the Small and Large Books of Designs, produced in 1796 for Ozias Humphry, already stressed the pictorial element of the designs, “tho to the Loss of some of the best things.”
Indeed, it is this loss that Blake felt he had to make up for when he reissued the designs in 1818. In his illuminated books it was the unification of words and images that had guided each “perfect” poem; this had now gone. In one sense this was inevitable, in that there was no way in which he could actually print the new lines of verse under the designs having masked off what was originally there in their book form. In 1818, over twenty years later, he developed a completely new solution.
In the first place he added the framing lines, an act which in itself would have stressed only the pictorial element, leaving the absence of text as a deprivation. The framing lines were originally done in pencil and then reinforced in ink, and the number and proportions were carefully thought out. In some cases the edges of the printed images have also been tidied up with a ruled ink line, as in Urizen pl. 7 and the bottom edge of Urizen pl. 23. In the case of the illustration from The Marriage of Heaven and Hell pl. 16, the top and bottom edges were strengthened with gray watercolor wash, again in order to neaten the image.
Such framing was a nod by Blake towards a style of presentation with which he was well familiar; it is to be seen around contemporary watercolors, engravings, and printed book illustrations. The use of some kind of tinting between framing lines is also found in the mounting of watercolors.
The setting of a glowingly colored design within some kind of frame is reminiscent of medieval illuminated books. Blake would have been familiar with such a combined art form from his experiences as an apprentice in Westminster Abbey. When he came to add writing to the second copy of the Small Book of Designs, this would have heightened his own awareness of his place in such a spiritual tradition.begin page 56 |
Blake then added his new lines of verse under each design. The new discoveries add thirteen lines, making in total thirty-two lines of verse written on twenty-one designs (including both of the inscribed copies of Urizen pl. 12). The new lines, like those already known, echo, to a greater or lesser extent, the imagery of the designs; in the case of Urizen pl. 12 the new inscription is a more specific illustration of Urizen swimming upwards through water. In all the examples the added texts, far from being the verses in the original books illustrated by the designs, can be seen as captions to the designs, appropriate solely to the illustrations they accompany. Nor, in so far as one can tell, do the verses below the designs form part of a single consecutive text; rather, what one has now is more like a series of emblems much like those in the little emblem books For Children and For the Sexes, printed or reprinted at about this time.
The use of double quotation marks, perhaps the most intriguing feature of the designs from the second copy of the Small Book of Designs, is particularly significant, especially in those cases where there are two lines, each with its own set of quotation marks at the end of the line as well as the beginning. Even when one accepts Blake’s apparently somewhat wayward usage of punctuation, and indeed in many cases his lack of it, these quotation marks seem to give his words an extra significance.
Blake’s use of quotation marks in his books is rare. On Urizen pl. 19 three lines are so distinguished, the first and second with opening quotation marks and the third more orthodoxly with them at the close; as a result the text reads like an actual exhortation to “‘Spread a Tent. . . .’” On Jerusalem pl. 27 a series of rhetorical questions, followed by “Amen! Huzza! Selah!”, is followed by a line actually given within quotes, “‘All things Begin & End in Albions Ancient Druid Rocky Shore’”; it is more difficult to distinguish the speaker of this line than those of the salutations above. On Jerusalem pl. 77 one has an actual parallel, with quotation marks at each end of the two-line appeal, appearing as it were under the heading “Devils are / False Religions”:
“Saul Saul”Here one has an actual quotation from St. Paul, presumably to illustrate the sentence about devils.21↤ 21. For Blake’s use of quotation marks in the illuminated books it is best to refer to a facsimile or good reproduction of a copy of the book in question.
“Why persecutest thou me.”
The most extensive use of double quotation marks at each end of every line occurs in the long verse passage in the midst of Blake’s second letter to Thomas Butts of 22 November 1802, one section of twelve lines, one of ten (E 720-22). In Blake’s previous letter to Butts of the same date he had stated that “Tho I have been very unhappy I am so no longer I am again Emerged into the light of Day ...” (E 720). The verses in the second letter “were Composed above a twelvemonth ago while Walking from Felpham to Lavant to meet my Sister,” and begin “With happiness. . . .” The lines within quotes are the poet’s reply to “a Thistle across my way” who warns him against backsliding; these lines within verses within a letter stand out as the direct utterance of the poet as Blake addresses Butts, described as “Friend of My Angels” in a letter of 23 September 1800 (E 711), in comparison with his other important patron of the time, William Hayley.
Hayley’s patronage, though well-meaning, was restrictive and numbing, and perhaps Humphry’s patronage could have been seen by Blake in much the same way. Later, probably in 1809, Blake wrote to Humphry enclosing a copy of his Descriptive Catalogue of that year, stating that “You will see in this little work the cause of difference between you & me. . . . You will percieve [sic] that I not only detest False Art but have the Courage to say so Publickly ...” (E 770). Unable to repeat the isolation of his designs without their original texts as they had been prepared for Humphry in 1796, Blake gave the illustrations for his second copy of the Small Book of Designs a new verbal context. Thus the presence of the verses and the stress given to them by the quotation marks take us back to the principle of “Personifications & Acts” as explored in the illuminated books from where the designs originated and demonstrate how he redressed “the Loss of some of the best things.” What may have been a business transaction in 1796 had become a new form of creativity.
The new discoveries since 1981 of pages from the second copy of the Small Book of Designs bring up the total number of pages, given that only one copy of Urizen pl. 12 would have been included in the bound copy B, to nineteen, four fewer than in the first copy; three of the images are not found in the first copy (Butlin, Paintings and Drawings #261.9-11). The highest figure in the series of numbers written in ink is “22”; of those written in pencil, including that on the Urizen title page from the Keynes collection, the highest number is “10”, with one gap in the sequence.
Given the differences in content of the two copies of the Small Book of Designs and the existence of further examples of independent color prints from the illuminated books that cannot definitely be associated with either the second copy of the Small Book or the putative second copy of the Large Book of Designs,22↤ 22. Bentley, Blake Books 269. it seems likely that Blake printed off his chosen designs from the books in as many copies as the colorprinting technique would bear, one, two, and sometimes three at a time. The best set, of first pulls, went into the first copies of the two Books of Designs, executed for Ozias Humphry in 1796, while the remaining pulls stayed in Blake’s possession. Then, in 1818 when Dawson Turner inquired about the works done for Humphry, presumably with the idea of acquiring a second set, Blake sought out the best copies he could find, mostly if not all second pulls, finished them off with watercolor, ink outlines, framing lines, and new lines of verse, and begin page 57 | bound up a second copy, similar to but not identical in choice of subjects. For some reason Turner did not acquire the set and it was subsequently broken up into at least two parts, each with its own numbering, one set retaining the ink numbers of the original bound copy, the other being given new numbers in pencil and probably remaining unbound though, of course, retaining the stabholes of the unified set. Somehow the odd pull of Urizen pl. 12 became associated with the Tatham group of pulls from the second copy.
Because of the relatively haphazard way in which Blake had printed copies of his designs, several still remained and are now generally dispersed. Further pages from the second copy of the Small Book of Designs may be among the odd prints which have lost their characteristic features through trimming; others, hopefully, remain to be discovered.23↤ 23. See Butlin, Paintings and Drawings #262A-283. Of these, #263, 265, 267, 277, 279, 281, 285, and 286 are possible candidates for the second copy of the Large Book of Designs; see Bentley, Blake Books 269, and “William Blake and His Circle, 1995” 137; those not trimmed are on larger paper than the Small Book, usually share the framing lines typical of c. 1818, but lack any lines of verse.
The later history of the new group of pulls is unknown until they were acquired by the present owner in a book sale in north London around 1972-77. At some point before then they had been slipped into a slim alphabetical national railway timetable datable only through a route map dated June 1891.
Even the most forceful of the images among those in the Small Book of Designs such as Urizen pl. 17 are, of course, on the small scale of the books from which they derive, and at least some of the images are more in the tradition of the decorative style of such artists as Thomas Stothard. However, in what Viscomi has aptly called “Blake’s ‘Annus Mirabilis,’” 1795, the large color prints displayed in a completely personal and revolutionary way the unity of color-printing technique with the weight and neoclassical clarity of the Job and Ezekiel prints of 1793-94.
Bentley, G. E., Jr. Blake Books. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1977.
—. Blake Books Supplement. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1995.
—. “The Shadow of Los: Embossing in Blake’s ‘Book of Urizen.’” Art Bulletin of Victoria 30 (1989): 18-23.
—. “William Blake and His Circle: A Checklist of Publications and Discoveries in 1995.” Blake 29.4 (spring 1996): 131-68.
—. “William Blake and His Circle: A Checklist of Publications and Discoveries in 2007.” Blake 42.1 (summer 2008): 4-48.
Bindman, David. The Complete Graphic Works of William Blake. London: Thames and Hudson, 1978.
—, ed. William Blake: Catalogue of the Collection in the Fitzwilliam Museum. Cambridge: Heffer, 1970.
Butlin, Martin. “Another Rediscovered Small Color Print by William Blake.” Blake 27.3 (winter 1993-94): 68.
—. “A New Color Print from the Small Book of Designs.” Blake 26.1 (summer 1992): 19-21.
—. The Paintings and Drawings of William Blake. 2 vols. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1981.
—. William Blake, 1757-1827. Tate Gallery Collections, vol. 5. London: Tate Gallery, 1990.
Erdman, David V., ed., with a new foreword and commentary by Harold Bloom. The Complete Poetry and Prose of William Blake. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2008.
Essick, Robert N. “Blake in the Marketplace, 1995, Including a Survey of Blakes in Private Ownership.” Blake 29.4 (spring 1996): 108-30.
—. “Blake in the Marketplace, 2007.” Blake 41.4 (spring 2008): 140-63.
—. The Separate Plates of William Blake: A Catalogue. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1983.
—. William Blake, Printmaker. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1980.
Jaffé, Michael, ed. William Blake and His Contemporaries: A Loan Exhibition in Aid of the Friends of the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge. London: Fitzwilliam Museum Enterprises, Ltd., .
Viscomi, Joseph. Blake and the Idea of the Book. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1993.
—. “Blake’s ‘Annus Mirabilis’: The Productions of 1795.” Blake 41.2 (fall 2007): 52-83.
—. “The Myth of Commissioned Illuminated Books: George Romney, Isaac D’Israeli, and ‘One Hundred and Sixty designs . . . of Blake’s.’” Blake 23.2 (fall 1989): 48-74.
Table 1: The Newly Discovered Prints
All are on wove paper. All save the last have stabholes, the first approximately 3 to 3½ in. (7.5 to 9.0 cm.) from the top of the sheet, the second 1½ in. (3.9 cm.) from the first, and the third 1¾ in. (4.4 cm.) from the second. In particular, there is an extra stabhole approximately 3⁄32 in. (0.2 cm.) slightly below and to the right of the third stabhole. In addition, there are pinholes centered at the top of Urizen pls. 11, 23, and 12, perhaps as the result of the pages’ having been hung on the wall unframed.
All are color printed from the relief-etched plate, apparently without any printing in ink from the actual outlines of the images. Each has been finished in pen and ink and watercolor. Several of the prints bear offsets on the versos, as a result of their having been stacked one on top of the other, though not in their present numerical order. Such offsets are more likely to have occurred when the color-printing medium was relatively fresh.begin page 58 |
All the prints save that of Urizen pl. 17 are inscribed on the back, lower left, in black ink by Frederick Tatham, “This Coloured Print by Wm. Blake / was given to me by his Widow / Frederick Tatham / Sculptor.” (the precise punctuation varies).
In tables 1 and 2, catalogue numbers have been added following those already allocated in Butlin, Paintings and Drawings, to the second copy of the Small Book of Designs.
#261.14 The First Book of Urizen plate 19
2⅞ × 43⁄32 in. (7.3 × 10.4 cm.) on paper 107⁄16 × 75⁄16 in. (26.3 × 18.5 cm.).
“Is the Female death”below in black ink, and “1” in pencil lower right.
“Become new Life”
The embossed platemark on the verso measures 6¼ × 4 1⁄16 in. (15.8 × 10.4 cm.). The text embossing on the verso of this sheet is clearer than in any other of the masked texts in this group of eight prints.
There are ruled lines around the design.
This corresponds to page 14 of the first copy of the Small Book of Designs (BM 1856-2-9-438; Butlin, Paintings and Drawings #260.14).
#261.15 The Marriage of Heaven and Hell plate 16
29⁄32 × 4 in. (5.8 × 10.2 cm.) on paper 103⁄16 × 77⁄16 in. (25.9 × 18.7 cm.).
“Who shall set”below in black ink, and “4” in pencil lower right.
“The Prisoners free”
Watermarked “E&P” for Edmeads & Pine. The embossed platemark on the verso measures 2⅜ × 4 in. (6.0 × 10.2 cm.).
The top and bottom edges of the printed image have been strengthened and tidied up with touches of gray watercolor.
This corresponds to page 4 of the first copy of the Small Book of Designs (BM 1856-2-9-428; Butlin, Paintings and Drawings #260.4).
#261.16 The Book of Thel plate 7
39⁄32 × 4 7⁄32 in. (8.3 × 10.7 cm.) on paper 103⁄16 × 76⁄16 in. (25.7 × 18.6 cm.).
“Doth God take Care of these”below in black ink, and “5” (or “3”) in pencil lower right.
The embossed platemark on the verso measures 3¼ × 47⁄32 in. (8.1 × 10.7 cm.).
There are faint unfinished ruled pencil lines outside the ink framing lines.
The somewhat unclear pencil number lower right is presumably a “5”, number “3” appearing on the copy of Urizen pl. 1 listed in table 3 below (Butlin, Paintings and Drawings #261.1).
This corresponds to page 22 of the first copy of the Small Book of Designs (BM 1856-2-9-446; Butlin, Paintings and Drawings #260.22).
#261.17 The First Book of Urizen plate 11
4¼ × 315⁄16 in. (10.8 × 10.0 cm.) on paper 10⅜ × 75⁄16 in. (26.4 × 18.5 cm.).
“Every thing is an attempt”below in black ink, and “6” in pencil lower right. On the verso there is, in an unidentifiable hand, an indecipherable inscription, perhaps “Heaven & Hell”; what looks like an oddly written “2” precedes those words.
“To be Human”
There are faint unfinished ruled pencil lines outside the ink framing lines.
The embossed platemark on the verso measures 331⁄32 × 4¼ in. (10.1 × 10.8 cm.).
This corresponds to page 19 in the first copy of the Small Book of Designs (BM 1856-2-9-443; Butlin, Paintings and Drawings #260.19).
#261.18 The First Book of Urizen plate 23
331⁄32 × 4 in. (10.1 × 10.2 cm.) on paper 10½ × 7¼ in. (26.7 × 18.4 cm.).
“Fearless tho in pain”below in black ink, and “7” in pencil lower right; slightly below this, in very faint pencil and scribbled over, is what appears to be the figure “11”.
“I travel on”
A ruled line has been drawn in black ink along the bottom edge of the image.
This corresponds to page 7 in the first copy of the Small Book of Designs (BM 1856-2-9-431; Butlin, Paintings and Drawings #260.7).
#261.19 The First Book of Urizen plate 17
513⁄16 × 39⁄16 in. (14.8 × 9.1 cm.) on paper 10⅛ × 73⁄32 in. (25.85 × 18.1 cm.).
“Vegetating in fibres of Blood”below in black ink, and “8” in pencil lower right. There is no inscription by Frederick Tatham on the verso.
The embossed platemark on the verso measures 513⁄16 × 317⁄32 in. (14.7 × 8.9 cm.).
There are ruled black ink lines around the design.
This corresponds to page 3 of the first copy of the Small Book of Designs (BM 1856-2-9-427; Butlin, Paintings and Drawings #260.3).
#261.20 The First Book of Urizen plate 7
4½ × 4⅛ in. (11.4 × 10.4 cm.) on paper 925⁄32 × 7¼ in. (25.0 × 18.5 cm.).begin page 59 |
“I sought Pleasure & found Pain”below in black ink, and “9” in pencil lower right.
The embossed platemark on the verso measures 49⁄16 × 43⁄32 in. (11.6 × 10.4 cm.). Also on the verso, in raking light, there is what seems to be the imprint of a thin canvas or linen-like masking covering the six lines of text above the image in the original book; this masking seems to follow the line of flames to the right of the figure’s head.
There are ruled black ink lines around the image. A very pale yellow watercolor wash has been added between the first and second framing lines.
This corresponds to page 18 in the first copy of the Small Book of Designs (BM 1856-2-9-442; Butlin, Paintings and Drawings #260.18).
#261.21 The First Book of Urizen plate 12
6 × 41⁄32 in. (15.3 × 10.3 cm.) on paper 10⅛ × 7¼ in. (25.7 × 18.4 cm.).
The floods overwhelmed mebelow in pencil within the ink framing lines, and “10” in pencil lower right; slightly above and to the left of the figure “10” the paper is slightly scraped, possibly the result of a former number having been removed.
There are ruled black ink lines around the edges of the image.
The embossed platemark on the verso measures 61⁄32 × 4 in. (15.3 × 10.2 cm.).
This subject does not occur in the first copy of the Small Book of Designs, but there are two other known, separate copies of this subject. The first, which has been trimmed, is inscribed on the back in pencil, but presumably following an ink inscription on the front, “I labour upwards into / futurity / Blake”, and for this reason has up to now been associated with the second copy of the Small Book of Designs (Morgan Library, New York; Butlin, Paintings and Drawings #261.10, pl. 359). The second, on an untrimmed sheet of paper, lacks any of the characteristic features of the second copy of the Small Book of Designs (BM 1874-12-12-145; Butlin, Paintings and Drawings #280, pl. 379).
Literature: Bentley, “William Blake and His Circle, 2007” 14n43.
Table 2: Other Discoveries since 1981
#261.12 The Marriage of Heaven and Hell plate 20
Robert N. Essick, USA
25⁄16 × 4⅛ in. (5.5 × 10.5 cm.) on paper, trimmed, 53⁄16 × 77⁄16 in. (13.0 × 18.9 cm.); restored with additional area of original paper bearing verses, 1 × 77⁄16 in. (2.5 × 18.9 cm.), attached to mat below.
“O revolving Serpent”below in black ink, and “16” in ink upper right.
“O the Ocean of Time & Space”
There are four stabholes, the first three 7⁄16 in. (1.1 cm.) from the left-hand edge of the sheet, the first 15⁄16 in. (2.4 cm.) from the top, the second ½ in. (3.85 cm.) below that, and the third 1¾ in. (4.5 cm.) below that; the fourth stabhole is 9⁄16 in. (1.5 cm.) lower than the third and ½ in. (1.3 cm.) from the left-hand edge of the sheet.
This corresponds to page 6 in the first copy of the Small Book of Designs (BM 1856-2-9-430; Butlin, Paintings and Drawings #260.6).
Collections: John Varley (d. 1842); Mrs. John Varley, given 31 March 1856 to Adam White; Sir Joseph Noel Paton (d. 1901); by descent to vendor at Sotheby’s, London, 13 July 1995, lot 71, illus. in color, sold £36,700 to John Windle for Robert N. Essick.
Literature: Butlin, “A New Color Print,” illus.; Bentley, Blake Books Supplement 99-100; Essick, “Blake in the Marketplace, 1995” 108, 111, illus. 3-5.
#261.13 The First Book of Urizen plate 3
Maurice Sendak, USA
213⁄32 × 315⁄16 in. (6.1 × 9.9 cm.) on paper trimmed to image. There is a rough pencil drawing, just possibly a figure, on the reverse (Butlin, “Another Rediscovered Small Color Print,” upright illus. 2).
Butlin and Essick both agree that this is almost certainly the second of three pulls, following that in the first copy of the Small Book of Designs (BM 1856-2-9-433; Butlin, Paintings and Drawings #260.9) but preceding that formerly belonging to Geoffrey Keynes and now on deposit from the Keynes Family Trust at the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, which has also been trimmed (Butlin, Paintings and Drawings #261.4; see table 3). For this reason it has been suggested that this pull rather than the Keynes one is from the second copy of the Small Book of Designs. However, it is the Keynes copy that bears on the reverse the inscription “Oh flames of furious / desire”, presumably a copy of an original inscription typical of the second copy of the Small Book of Designs.
The figure’s clearly formed left breast can also be seen, less clearly, in the British Museum pull, but not in that at Cambridge.
There is what appears to be a watercolor copy after the Keynes version at the Tate; it is inscribed “Oh! Flames of furious desires” in pencil, without quotation marks, below the framing lines (Tate N05190; Butlin, William Blake 80-81, no. 24, illus.). Collections: Anon. sale, Sotheby’s London, 17 December 1970, lot 14, as by “Blake”; anon. sale, Christie’s, London, 25 April 1995, lot 52, illus., sold £32,200 to John Windle for Maurice Sendak.
Literature: Butlin, “Another Rediscovered Small Color Print,” illus.; Essick, “Blake in the Marketplace, 1995” 108, 111, illus. 1.
Table 3: Changes in Ownership since 1981
#261.1 The First Book of Urizen plate 1
Keynes Family Trust, on loan to the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge.
39⁄16 × 41⁄32 in. (9.1 × 10.25 cm.) on wove paper 103⁄16 × 73⁄16 in. (25.9 × 18.2 cm.).
“Which is the Way”below in black ink, and “3” in pencil lower right. The printed date has been altered from “1794” to “1796” in ink. There are two later inscriptions in pencil: “Moses” lower left and “192” lower right.
“The Right or the Left”
Inscribed by Frederick Tatham on the verso lower left in black ink, “This Coloured Print by Wm. Blake / was given to me by his Widow / Frederick Tatham / Sculptor.”
There are four stabholes. The first is 33⁄16 in. (8.1 cm.) from the top edge of the sheet; the second is 1½ in. (3.85 cm.) below that, and the third 123⁄32 in. (4.35 cm.) below the second; the usual extra stabhole is somewhat below the third and to the right.
Between the first and second framing lines there is a very pale yellow watercolor wash.
There is some embossing from foliage on the right-hand side of the recto of the full Urizen title page, but this was largely masked, leaving a fabric-like texture on the verso.
Collections: As in Butlin, Paintings and Drawings #261.1; Sir Geoffrey Keynes (d. 1982); Keynes Family Trust.
Literature: Bindman, Catalogue of the Collection in the Fitzwilliam Museum 71, no. 522(i); Butlin, Paintings and Drawings 137-38, #261.1, pl. 350; Jaffé 80, no. 38a, illus.; Viscomi, Blake and the Idea of the Book 303-04; Viscomi, “Blake’s ‘Annus Mirabilis’” 75.
#261.4 The First Book of Urizen plate 3
Keynes Family Trust, on loan to the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge.
2⅜ × 327⁄32 in. (6.1 × 9.8 cm.) on wove paper, trimmed, 313⁄16 × 527⁄32 in. (9.7 × 14.9 cm.).
Inscribed on the verso, not by Blake, “Oh flames of furious / desire”.
The top and bottom edges of the sheet have been trimmed, cutting away the third and fourth framing lines. The edges of the image have been strengthened with ruled pen lines.
Collections: As in Butlin, Paintings and Drawings #261.4; Sir Geoffrey Keynes (d. 1982); Keynes Family Trust.
Literature: Bindman, Catalogue of the Collection in the Fitzwilliam Museum 71, no. 522(ii); Butlin, Paintings and Drawings 138-39, #261.4, pl. 353; Jaffé 81, no. 38b, illus.; Viscomi, Blake and the Idea of the Book 304.
#261.7 Visions of the Daughters of Albion plate 7
Keynes Family Trust, on loan to the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge.
2¼ × 4¾ in. (5.7 × 12.1 cm.) on wove paper 109⁄16 × 75⁄16 in. (26.85 × 18.6 cm.).
“Wait Sisters”below in black ink, and “22” in black ink upper right, and in pencil, not by Blake, “Original Drawing by Wm Blake” lower center.
“Tho all is Lost”
There are three stabholes. The first is 3⅜ in. (8.65 cm.) from the top edge of the sheet, the second 1½ in. (3.8 cm.) from the first, and the third 123⁄32 in. (4.4 cm.) below the second. The first two stabholes are between the two outermost framing lines. There is no extra stabhole just below and to the right of the lowest of the three.
There are framing ink lines along the top, bottom, and right-hand edges of the image. There is very little embossing visible on the verso.
Collections: As in Butlin, Paintings and Drawings #261.7; Sir Geoffrey Keynes (d. 1982); Keynes Family Trust.
Literature: Bindman, Catalogue of the Collection in the Fitzwilliam Museum 71-72, no. 522 (iii); Butlin, Paintings and Drawings 139-40, #261.7, pl. 356; Jaffé 81, no. 38c, illus.
#261.11 The First Book of Urizen plate 22
Robert N. Essick, USA
61⁄16 × 315⁄16 in. (15.4 × 10.0 cm.) on paper 10⅛ × 7⅛ in. (25.6 × 18.0 cm.).
“Frozen doors to mock”below in ink.
“The world: while they within torments up lock”
There are four stabholes. The first is 3⅛ in. (8.0 cm.) from the top of the sheet, the second 1½ in. (3.9 cm.) from the first, and the third 1¾ in. (4.4 cm.) from the second. The fourth hole is 19⁄32 in. (1.5 cm.) lower than the third hole and approximately the same to the right. The other three stabholes are 1¾ in. (4.5 cm.) from the left-hand edge of the sheet.
Between the first and second framing lines there is a pale blue watercolor wash.
This design is not found in the first copy of the Small Book of Designs, but the framing lines and the form of inscription are similar to those in the second copy. There are, however, no traces of page numbers either in ink or pencil.
Collections: As in Butlin, Paintings and Drawings #261.11; Joseph Holland, Los Angeles; John Windle, catalogue 26, December 1995, no. 1, illus. in color on cover, sold to Robert N. Essick.
Exhibited: As in Butlin, Paintings and Drawings #261.11; William Blake, National Museum of Western Art (Tokyo, 1990) 129, no. 25d, illus. in color.
Literature: Butlin, Paintings and Drawings 141, #261.11, pl. 360; Essick, “Blake in the Marketplace, 1995” 108, 111, illus. 2.begin page 61 | begin page 62 | begin page 63 | begin page 64 | begin page 65 | begin page 66 | begin page 67 | begin page 68 | begin page 69 | begin page 70 | begin page 71 | begin page 72 |