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BLAKE, William (1757-1827). The Marriage of Heaven and Hell: Plates 25-7, A Song of Liberty. (Bentley, COPY M; Bindman 106-8).

BLAKE, William (1757-1827). The Marriage of Heaven and Hell: Plates 25-7, A Song of Liberty. (Bentley, COPY M; Bindman 106-8).

Relief etchings, printed in black ink, ca. 1790, the three plates printed on a folded half sheet of laid paper, plates 26-7 printed back-to-back (not plates 25-6 as recorded by Bentley), without watermark, pl. 25 line 6 reading 'And weep and bow thy reverend locks!', pl. 26 with variant defective terminal 'a' making the name in line 16 appear to be 'Urthonu', pl. 27 with faint uninked imprint of the word 'Chorus' and without the 8-line chorus, with margins, the half-sheet with three deckel edges. (Some light spotting.)
P. 152 x 105mm and smaller, overall S. 199 x 243mm.(3 on 1 sheet)
John Linnell; Christie's, 15 March 1918, lot 198, ('Another copy, without the 8-line Chorus at the end, printed in black, on 8° paper') sold for 8½ guineas to Tregaskis. Lot 197, Bentley's copy L, and lot 198, the present copy, were bought at the Linnell sale on commission by Tregaskis for Frank Rinder, and the transaction with the £2 commission levy appears on a Tregaskis receipt dated 16 March 1918. Copy M was presumably sold by Rinder at a later date. Copy L, was sold at Christie's on 30th November 1993, lot 1, 'The Rinder Collection of William Blake'.

A rare untraced example of Blake's Song of Liberty. Bentley lists nine 'complete' copies of The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, all of which are now in public collections. Of the twenty extra impressions of fifteen of the plates, eleven are in public collections, and four in private hands. The remaining five are all listed as 'untraced', and they include the three plates included here.

Published in 1793, The Marriage in Heaven and Hell was an early explication in prose of Blake's beliefs. It is, however, no simple text of credence; Blake explores the inherent contradictions proposed by belief in the essential unity of the universe at the expense of accepted Christian orthodoxies, in particular the theological principles of Swedenborg. These plates, which form The Song of Liberty, foreshadow the great Prophecies that were issued in 1793-5. G. E. Bentley, Jr., Blake Books, Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1977, pp. 287, 301; D. Bindman, The Complete Graphic Works of William Blake, Thames & Hudson, London, 1978, p. 460, pl. 25 repr. p. 65.
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The sheet is printed on wove paper, and has two deckle edges.

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