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Blake in the Marketplace, 2011

Robert N. Essick

Abstract


Over the last two decades, scholars and collectors have been blessed with a remarkable series of discoveries of unrecorded or long-lost works by Blake. If this record has led us to expect new treasures almost every year, 2011 did not disappoint. By early February I learned that Bonhams in London would offer an unrecorded copy of Blake’s Poetical Sketches (1783) in its 22 March auction. This adds one more copy to the twenty-three previously traced and is only the third remaining in private hands.

A person representing a descendant of Charles Augustus Tulk (1786-1849), the Swedenborgian friend of Blake and John Flaxman, contacted me in March about an album of drawings owned, and probably assembled, by Tulk’s daughter Louisa Susanna in the first half of the nineteenth century. Several British Blake scholars inspected the album and found in it a watercolor and a pencil drawing definitely attributable to Blake and a pen and ink drawing probably from his hand. The watercolor and pencil drawing bear sketches by Blake on their versos. The collection also includes several drawings by Flaxman. On the basis of digital images supplied by the Tulk family’s representative, I’m confident that these attributions are correct. None of these materials has been previously recorded. The disposition of this important discovery is still pending as of January 2012.


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