America : a prophecy.

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Accession number: 
PML 16134
Author: 
Blake, William, 1757-1827.
Published: 
Lambeth [London] : Printed by William Blake, 1793 [i.e. ca. 1795].
Description: 
18 plates (in 2 v.) : ill. ; 53 cm
Credit: 
Purchased by Pierpont Morgan, 1909.
Curatorial Comments: 

William Blake (1757-1827) occupies a unique place in the history of Western art. His creativity included both the visual and literary arts. In his lifetime he was best known as an engraver; now he is also recognized for his innovative poetry, printmaking, and painting. Blake's keen perception of the political and social climate found expression throughout his work. His strong sense of independence is evident in the complex mythology that he constructed in response to the age of revolution.
In 1790, Blake moved to Lambeth, where he produced a trilogy of illuminated books called the Continental Prophecies that addressed the politically charged spirit of his age, embodied by the American and French revolutions. Along with Europe and The Song of Los, America depicts the oppression exercised by monarchies and religions represented by Urizen. Although godlike in appearance, Urizen is a legalistic, despotic figure.

Notes: 

Copy A.
Eighteen plates on 18 leaves; matted.
Front., title, 2 p.l., Preludium, 2 p.l., A Prophecy, 14 pl.
Relief etchings printed in light black; with added watercolors.
Printing dated by Viscomi to about 1795.
Leaves measure 32 x 24 cm.
Without the word "Preludium" at top of plate 3.
For detailed provenance comments see Bentley, p. 100.
Proof sheet or additional uncolored variant impression of Bentley plate 4, Keynes 2 ('Silent as despairing love...'), once shelved here, is now shelved with other plates of PML 9948 (Cf. PML 9948.13).

Binding: 
Matted; housed in two beige cloth-bound cases.
Provenance: 
Possibly George Romney; Isaac D'Israeli; Hodgson sale 14 Jan 1904, lot 222; Quaritch cat. 1904, lot 1602; Quaritch cat. Mar 1909, lot 287; sold on 6 May 1909 to Pierpont Morgan.
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