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Vol. 55 no. 4: Spring 2022

Blake in the Marketplace, 2021

  • Robert N. Essick
23 March 2022
27 Apr. 2022


The Blake market, almost dormant in 2020, sprang to life early in 2021 with the appearance of Blake’s drawing The Death of Ezekiel’s Wife in Sotheby’s New York sale of Old Master Drawings on 27 January. The estimate of $80,000-$120,000 undervalued one of Blake’s most important monochrome wash drawings remaining in private hands. Bidding paused for half a minute at the low estimate. As the auctioneer was about to knock down the lot, another bidder jumped in. Two combatants drove the drawing to a hammer price of $230,000-$289,800 including the buyer’s premium charged by the house. I believe that this is an auction record for an uncolored drawing by Blake, and a record for one of his pictures in any medium datable to the 1780s. I have not been able to discover the identity of the new owner, but I suspect a private collector. Has Bono struck again?