BLAKE, William, illustrator -- BLAIR, Robert (1699-1746). The Grave. A Poem. London: T. Bensley for R.H. Cromek, 1808.
2o (411 x 319 mm). Etched portrait of Blake by L. Schiavonetti after T. Phillips, etched frontispiece and 11 plates by Schiavonetti after Blake (first two plates with tiny marginal wormtracks, some occasional foxing). Text watermarked "J Whatman 1801." Cathedral style binding of gold-tooled red straight-grained morocco, blue watered silk linings gilt, edges gilt, by Charles Hering (some light wear, a few repairs). Provenance: acquired from Bernard Quaritch, 1980.
FIRST EDITION, LARGE-PAPER PROOF COPY, engraved title with "Proof Copy R.H.C. Price 5.5.0" lower right. In the present copy, the plates are bound in the following order, using the order established by Robert N. Essick and Morton D. Paley: 1, 2, 7, 11, 5, 6, 10, 4, 8, 9, 3, 12. Plates 8 and 9 are in the quarto issue, with added text, though are printed on laid paper as in the folio issue. These etchings became the best known of Blake's designs; a second edition in both folio and quarto appeared in 1813. The first leaf of text is Blake's one-page dedicatory poem to the Queen who heads the six-page list of subscribers, many of whom were artists. Cromek's advertisement, lavishing praise on Schiavonetti, is followed by Fuseli's more profound appreciation of Blake's designs. Bentley 435; Robert N. Essick and Morton D. Paley, "The Printings of Blake's Designs for Blair's Grave" in: The Book Collector, Vol. 24, no. 4, Winter 1975.