"These illustrations must always remain among [Blake's] greatest. They are much less illustrations of Blair than expressions of his own moods and visions. We see the body and soul rushing into each other's arms at the last day, the soul hovering over the body and exploring the recesses of the grave, and the good and bad appearing before the judgement seat of God, not as these things appeared to the orthodox eyes of Blair, but as they appeared to the mystical eyes of William Blake." -Tom Paulin
FIRST EDITION WITH WILLIAM BLAKE’S ILLUSTRATIONS of Robert Blair’s The Grave. One of 589 subscriber’s copies.
The first edition of Blair's The Grave appeared in 1743; in 1805 the publisher Robert Cromek commissioned Blake to engrave twenty illustrations for a new edition of Blair's poem based on Blake's own watercolors. Cromek was not happy with Blake's engraving work and subsequently commissioned Louis Schiavonetti to engrave the book's 12 illustrations after Blake's own designs. (In a controversial sale in May of 2006, 19 of the 20 original watercolors were sold at Sotheby's for 5 five million pounds.) Blake also contributed the dedicatory poem to the edition.
London: T. Bensley for Robert Cromek, 1808. Quarto, three-quarter black morocco over contemporary boards. Engraved portrait frontispiece, additional title and 11 plates by Louis Schiavonetti after William Blake and T. Phillips (portrait). Spine and boards lightly rubbed; preliminaries and a few plates foxed. An attractive copy of this beautiful and famous edition.