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  • Blake claimed that his method of relief etching, which allowed him to create text and image together in the same process on the same copper plate, had come to him in a vision of his dead brother, Robert. Using an acid-resistant varnish, Blake could draw and write on the plate. When etched in an acid bath, image and text, protected by the varnish, would be left standing in relief. The areas in relief would then be inked and printed. Assisted by his wife, Catherine, Blake would then strengthen the printed lines with pen and ink and color the images with watercolor. Although labor-intensive, the entire process of production was controlled by Blake without the compromises of working with a commercial publisher. In 1788 Blake made his first experiments with relief etching to produce illustrated texts, “All Religions Are One” and “There Is No Natural Religion”. A year later he used the process to create “Songs of Innocence”, his first illuminated book of poetry. Couched in the form of a book for children, the simplicity of Blake’s lyrics and of the charming designs in which they are embedded are deceptive. The “Songs” are profound meditations on the human condition, and the richness and complexity of Blake’s vision became more fully apparent with his production of a companion volume, “Songs of Experience”, in 1794. The following year he combined the two books under the title “Songs of Innocence and of Experience”. Blake produced none of his illuminated books in large editions; indeed, each copy was unique, with variations in coloring and even in the order of plates. The twenty-six known copies of “Songs of Innocence”, four “Songs of Experience”, and twenty-four “Songs of Innocence and of Experience” (a figure that also includes separately issued copies of “Innocence” and “Experience” that were later combined by collectors or dealers) were among Blake’s best sellers.
?:PX_curatorial_comment
  • Blake claimed that his method of relief etching, which allowed him to create text and image together in the same process on the same copper plate, had come to him in a vision of his dead brother, Robert. Using an acid-resistant varnish, Blake could draw and write on the plate. When etched in an acid bath, image and text, protected by the varnish, would be left standing in relief. The areas in relief would then be inked and printed. Assisted by his wife, Catherine, Blake would then strengthen the printed lines with pen and ink and color the images with watercolor. Although labor-intensive, the entire process of production was controlled by Blake without the compromises of working with a commercial publisher. In 1788 Blake made his first experiments with relief etching to produce illustrated texts, “All Religions Are One” and “There Is No Natural Religion”. A year later he used the process to create “Songs of Innocence”, his first illuminated book of poetry. Couched in the form of a book for children, the simplicity of Blake’s lyrics and of the charming designs in which they are embedded are deceptive. The “Songs” are profound meditations on the human condition, and the richness and complexity of Blake’s vision became more fully apparent with his production of a companion volume, “Songs of Experience”, in 1794. The following year he combined the two books under the title “Songs of Innocence and of Experience”. Blake produced none of his illuminated books in large editions; indeed, each copy was unique, with variations in coloring and even in the order of plates. The twenty-six known copies of “Songs of Innocence”, four “Songs of Experience”, and twenty-four “Songs of Innocence and of Experience” (a figure that also includes separately issued copies of “Innocence” and “Experience” that were later combined by collectors or dealers) were among Blake’s best sellers.
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  • Bibliograpic reference ::
  • Bibliograpic reference :: John Baskett, Paul Mellon's legacy, a passion for British art : masterpieces from the Yale Center for British Art, Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, CT, 2007, p. 275, no. 69, pl. 69, N5220 M552 P38 2007 OVERSIZE (YCBA)
  • Component of series :: Songs of Innocence and of Experience, Bentley Copy L
  • Dimension height :: 11.1cm
  • Dimension height :: 18.1cm
  • Dimension height :: 18.7cm
  • Dimension width :: 12.7cm
  • Dimension width :: 7.0cm
  • Exhibition :: An American's Passion for British Art - Paul Mellon's Legacy
  • Exhibition :: Paul Mellon's Legacy : A Passion for British Art
  • Exhibition :: The Human Form Divine - William Blake from the Paul Mellon Collection
  • Located in :: New Haven
  • Located in :: Not on view
  • Located in :: Tracking - Registrar, Loan, Out
  • Located in :: Yale Center for British Art
  • Object type :: drawing
  • Object type :: relief print
  • Object type :: watercolor
  • Subject Concept :: Horn (Musical instrument)
  • Subject Concept :: angel
  • Subject Concept :: baby
  • Subject Concept :: children
  • Subject Concept :: flute
  • Subject Concept :: literary theme
  • Subject Concept :: man
  • Subject Concept :: pipe
  • Subject Concept :: religious and mythological subject
  • Subject Concept :: sheep
  • Subject Concept :: shepherd
  • Subject Concept :: trees
  • Subject Concept :: trumpet
  • Subject Concept :: vines
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  • ...
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  • Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection
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?:label
  • Songs of Innocence and of Experience, Plate 1, Innocence Frontispiece (Bentley 2)
?:type