BLAKE, William (1757-1827). Illustrations of the Book of Job. London: William Blake and John Linnell, 1825 [i.e. 1826].
Engraved title and 21 plates by and after Blake (210 x 159 mm), each labeled "Proof," mounted on folio broadsheets (413 x 310 mm). (Plate 5 with small paper defect in lower margin, some very light foxing and soiling to mounts.) Contemporary black half morocco, moiré cloth boards, gilt-lettered on spine (light wear along hinges and at extremities).
Provenance: Vernon Lushington (1832-1912), lawyer, judge and friend and patron of the Pre-Raphaelites (gift inscription at Christmas, 1882 to:) Marion Edith Holman Hunt (1846-1931), second wife of the painter William Holman Hunt (1827-1910); Susan Lushington; Christopher Norris; Melicent Norris (inscription beneath Vernon Lushington's: "afterwards returning to Susan Lushington from whom bought by Christopher Norris for his mother Melicent Norris. Returning in 1963 to Christopher Norris.")
ONE OF 150 SETS ON INDIA. This striking series was engraved by Blake and John Linnell after designs Blake had drawn circa 1810, and was printed in four different series during the 19th century: a first set of 150 "proof" copies on india paper, 1826 (to which series the present set belongs); a second set of 65 "proof" copies on French paper, 1826; 100 sets on drawing paper, with the word "Proof" removed from the plates, 1826; and finally, 100 sets on india, mounted on heavy paper, 1874, pulled from the original plates by Linnell. "The story which Blake called 'Job's Captivity' fascinated him all his life. He alluded to it throughout his drawings and writings, made a large separate print of Job in 1793, and then a series of twenty-one designs (now in the Morgan) for his faithful patron, Thomas Butts, about 1810" (Bentley).
EXTREMELY FINE AND EARLY IMPRESSIONS OF THE PLATES, with touches of tone and wiping scratches. Also with an important provenance, presented to the wife of the Pre-Raphaelite painter, William Holman Hunt, by one of his patrons, Vernon Lushington. Hunt's and Lushington's relationship formally began in 1862, when the attorney commissioned Hunt to paint a portrait of his father Stephen Lushington. While studying law at Cambridge, Vernon was attracted to members of the burgeoning art circle and became involved with William Morris and Edward Burne-Jones on the Oxford and Cambridge Magazine and acted as unpaid secretary to Thomas Carlyle when he was working on Frederick the Great. A long-time friend and supporter of the Pre-Raphaelites, Lushington was described by Burne-Jones as "one of the jolliest men I know." Hunt wrote to Frederick George Stephens of the portrait he was painting of Stephen Lushington: "I think it is the best painted portrait of modern times." Hunt remained a bachelor until 1865, when he married Fanny Waugh. After her premature death, Hunt married Fanny's sister Edith, an illegal act creating scandal and sensation in London. As evidenced in the date of the inscription, the Hunts and the Lushingtons remained close for many years after the portrait of Stephen Lushington was completed. (See Anne Clark Amor, William Holman Hunt: The True Pre-Raphaelite, London, 1989). Bentley Blake Books 421; Bindman 525-646.