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The History of William Blake’s Job Prints


Martin Butlin

At the risk of complicating an already highly complicated subject, I would like to develop a small point in the wonderfully thorough article by Mei-Ying Sung on the newly identified “Rosenbloom” set of Job prints. In paragraph 11 the author states that two of the proofs of this set are printed on laid rather than woven paper. These are the proofs for plates 17 and 20. By an extraordinary coincidence, if such it be, these are the two subjects, The Vision of Christ and Job and His Daughters, that, it now seems to be genuinely agreed, were added to the nineteen subjects painted in watercolor c. 1805–06 for Thomas Butts. When John Linnell commissioned Blake in 1821 to paint a new series based on copies of the Butts set, Blake added these two subjects. He then repeated them so that Butts would have the full set of twenty-one subjects. The additions are distinguished by, again, being on different paper from the rest of the Butts watercolors and also by being late in style and possibly completed by Blake’s widow.


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