Item #24032441 William Blake's Water-Colour Designs for the Poems of Thomas Gray. Introduction, Commentary, Thomas Gray, William Blake, Geoffrey Keynes, Arnold Fawcus, Artist, Note.
William Blake's Water-Colour Designs for the Poems of Thomas Gray
William Blake's Water-Colour Designs for the Poems of Thomas Gray
William Blake's Water-Colour Designs for the Poems of Thomas Gray
William Blake's Water-Colour Designs for the Poems of Thomas Gray
William Blake's Water-Colour Designs for the Poems of Thomas Gray

William Blake's Water-Colour Designs for the Poems of Thomas Gray

London: The Trianon Press for the William Blake Trust, 1972. Blake, William. Limited Edition. Hardcover. Three volumes, complete, one of 325 copies, elephant folio size, unpaginated, in slipcases. Fine. Item #24032441

This work was commisioned by Blake's friend John Flaxman for his wife Ann, adapted from the 1790 edition of "Gray's Poems", and was likely completed around 1800. These illustrations were not available to the public during Blake's lifetime, likely due to a combination of the owner Ann Flaxman's desire to keep them exclusive, and the polically subversive nature of the contents which would have been dangerous for Blake. As Geoffrey Keynes explains in his Introduction, " ...Blake was an assiduous reader of the English poets from an early period of his life, and there can be no doubt that as a youth he was familiar with the poems of Thomas Gray (1716-1771). It is clear the poem which most caught his fancy was 'The Bard', containing all the elements of drama, legend, imagination and prophetic utterance likely to be found most appealing by the young poet and artist."

This edition is produced in the grandest possible scale, with the utmost accuracy to the original designs, loaned for this purpose by the owner Paul Mellon. Mellon had wished for the illustrations to be made available to the wider public, and parted with the originals for four years so that might be made possible.

William Blake (1757-1827) is arguably the most original and highly-regarded English author - unusual in that he excelled both as an author and an artist. Although thought mad by his contemporaries, he was held in high regard for his expressiveness and for the synthesis of philosophical and mystical senses within his work. Blake’s work has been spectacularly reproduced through the pochoir technique by Arnold Fawcus and his Trianon Press, which has an undeniable claim to being the finest press of its kind in the last century and has long been known for their unrivaled artworks in fine colour printing.

___DESCRIPTION: Three volumes, original tan-brown quarter morocco with hand-marbled paper sides, backstrips lettered in gilt, 116 full-page water-colour designs reproduced by collotype and hand-stencil processes (in full colour), the texts of Gray's poems printed on pure rag laid paper from copperplates using three additional printings to reproduce Blake's pencil crosses and to obtain the tone of the paper, all the text pages being tipped-in; the introduction composed in Garamond, set by hand by Draeger Freres and printed by La Ruche, the remainder of the text was set in monotype Garamond and printed by Darantiere; the binding was done by Engel and the portfolios, slipcases, and boxes were made by Adine; elephant folio size (16.5" by 13.25"), [28 pp. of commentary text at the end of vol. III], limited edition of 518 copies total, this no. 80 of the 325 standard copies. Housed in publisher's slipcases covered with the same hand-marbled paper with leather guards along the openings.

___CONDITION: A fine set overall, internally bright and free of prior owner markings, covers are clean and unrubbed, corners are straight, text block is tight and square, plates are bright and beautiful; a hint of rubbing to the spine of the third volume, still overall a fine set. Slipcases also fine, strong and sturdy, clean and without discernable wear.

___CITATION: Bentley, Blake Books, no. 385.

___POSTAGE: Please note that this set is extremely large and heavy, and additional postage will apply; please inquire for details.

___Swan's Fine Books is pleased to be a member of the ABAA, ILAB, and IOBA and we stand behind every book we sell. Please contact us with any questions you may have, we are here to help.

Price: $1,800.00