William Blake's History of England

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blake brutus2.jpg

William Blake (1757-1827), The Landing of Julius Caesar, [1793] and The Landing of Brutus, [1793]. Watercolors finished in ink. Provenance: Colonel Gould Weston. Robert H. Taylor Collection (RHT), Rare Books and Special Collections. Gift of Robert H. Taylor, Class of 1930.

blake brutus1.jpg

On October 10, 1793, William Blake issued a prospectus of upcoming work. He had completed America, A Prophecy and was about to publish Europe, A Prophecy. One title Blake described was The History of England, which was to be a small book of engravings, priced three shillings. No copies are known to exist. The twenty historical engravings would have included both “The Landing of Brutus” and “The Landing of Julius Caesar.” The Robert Taylor collection at Princeton University holds Blake’s watercolor studies for these two plates.

According to the Cambridge Companion to William Blake (Marquand PR4147 .C36 2003), “Most of Blake’s early drawings appear to come from incomplete or abortive projects, but one can observe the emergence of some of his mature themes. His series of watercolors of The History of England (Burlin 51-69) was begun at least as early as 1780, for in that year he exhibited The Death of Earl Goodwin (Burlin 60) at the Royal Academy. Though the series was never finished - he was evidently still thinking of engraving some of the designs as late as 1793 - some themes can be discerned.

The British Museum holds a copy of the watercolor The Death of Earl Goodwin.


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I purchased an engraving on ebay by wil Worthington called Pilgrimage to Canterbury it says that it is a proof how old would this be and is it worth much.Willing to send a picture but don't see a file for that.