BLAKE, William, illustrator -- BLAIR, Robert (1699-1746). The Grave. A Poem. London: T. Bensley for R. Ackermann, [1813, date effaced].
4o (411 x 319 mm). Etched portrait of W. Blake by L. Schiavonetti after T. Phillips, etched frontispiece and 11 plates by Schiavonetti after Blake, ALL FINELY HAND COLORED. Text watermarked "Edmeads & Pine 1802" or "Edmeads & Co 1811." (A few chips along fore-edge of "The Reunion of the Soul & the Body.") 19th-century niger, top edges gilt, by the Hempstead Bindery (rebacked, dampstaining at the foot). Provenance: William Ford Nichols, Bishop of California (bookplate); acquired from Scopazzi, 1971.
POSSIBLY THE MASTER COPY, COLORED BY BLAKE
Second edition, quarto issue. According to Martin Butlin, the present copy appears to have been colored by Blake himself, a practice in keeping with that he employed for Night Thoughts: "Twenty-two hand-coloured copies of the engraved volume [of Night Thoughts are known, falling into two main groups according to their colouring. It seems likely to this compiler that Blake himself coloured at least one copy of each type" (Butlin, p.180). Bentley, in his Supplement, also notes of the Vershbow copy that it is "coloured, apparently by Blake.
Butlin proposes that the coloring of this copy is consistent with Blake's coloring scheme, and two plates show "heavy areas" typical of his coloring. The "master copies" that he colored would then serve as models for others. Though numerous colored copies of Night Thoughts are known, the only colored copies of The Grave known are the Keynes copy of the 1813 edition and the 1808 quarto edition at the Huntington (fully colored except for the frontispiece, as here). Bentley 435D; Bentley Supplement, p.199 (this copy); Butlin 609-638; 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.