BLAKE, William. Original pen-and-ink and wash drawing of Colinet and Thenot, with shepherds' crooks leaning against trees, which served as a design to illustrate a poem by Ambrose Philips in John Thornton's Pastorals of Virgil, London, 1821. 38 x 94 mm. Tipped to mount, matted, framed and glazed. FINE AUTOGRAPH PEN-AND-INK AND WATERCOLOR DRAWING, finished in pale grey wash, on wove paper.
Provenance: John Linnell, publisher (sold Christie's, 15 March 1918, in lot 205 to E. Parsons); sold American Art Association, 22 April 1924, lot 69) to Brick Row Bookshop, New York and by them dispersed; Mrs. Matthew Baird, III (inscription on verso of mount); acquired from Goodspeed's Book Shop, 1980.
This is one of the twenty drawings done by Blake in preperation for his wood engravings illustrating Philips' "Imitation of Virgil's First Eclogues," included in the third edition of Dr. Robert John Thornton's The Pastorals of Virgil. The drawings were originally mounted in a book, that was dispersed in 1924. Blake had met Thorton through John Linnell, whose doctor he was, in September 1818 and by September of 1820, Blake was working on wood engravings for Thornton's edition of Virgil. In addition to the wood engravings of his own designs for Ambrose Philips's "Imitation of Virgil's First Eclogue" he engraved busts of Theocritus, Virgil, Caesar Augustus, Julius Caesar and Epicurus and a group of medallion heads from antique coins.
Butlin notes that "the small figure of Lightfoot behind [the main subjects in the foreground] recalls the messengers in the Job illustration 'And I only am escaped alone to tell thee'". Keynes Drawings 50; Martin Butlin, The Paintings and Drawings of William Blake 769.3 ("untraced since 1927"); for the edition see Bentley 504 and Keynes 77.