[Humanist] 22.385 William Blake Archive update
Humanist Discussion Group
willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Tue Dec 16 08:33:04 CET 2008
Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 22, No. 385.
Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org
Date: Mon, 15 Dec 2008 15:05:08 -0500 (EST)
From: William S Shaw <wsshaw at email.unc.edu>
Subject: Update to the William Blake Archive
Here's some news from the William Blake Archive. The Stedman plates
represent our first publication of commercial book illustrations engraved
by Blake but designed by another artist--in this case, Stedman himself.
15 December 2008
The William Blake Archive is pleased to announce the publication of an
electronic edition of Blake's sixteen engravings in John Gabriel Stedman's
_Narrative, of a Five Years' Expedition, against the Revolted Negroes of
Surinam_ (1796). We are presenting two versions of these plates, one with
the designs uncolored and one with the designs hand colored. These
commercial copy engravings are presented in our Preview mode, one that
provides all the features of the Archive except Image Search and Inote
(our image annotation program).
Stedman's _Narrative_ contains a frontispiece to volume 1, an engraved
vignette on the title page of each of the two volumes, and eighty numbered
full-page plates (including three maps). Thirteen of the numbered plates
are signed by Blake; a further three unsigned plates (7, 12, and 14) have
been attributed to Blake by modern scholars. As both title pages
indicate, the full-page plates are based on drawings by Stedman. None of
the drawings on which Blake based his engravings has been traced, but it
is likely that Blake made various minor alterations in Stedman's amateur
Blake began work on the Stedman plates in 1791. Stedman visited Blake in
June 1794, and subsequently the engraver helped the author with various
business matters, very probably including negotiations with the book's
publisher, Joseph Johnson. Blake's attitudes towards slavery and
colonialism were indebted to Stedman's autobiographical narrative, as is
particularly evident in the texts and designs of his illuminated books
_Visions of the Daughters of Albion_ and _America_, both dated 1793.
Stedman's relationship with a female slave, Joanna, may have influenced
Blake's complex representations of gender and sexuality.
Most, possibly all, of the large-paper copies issued in 1796 have
hand-colored plates that include touches of liquefied gold and silver.
This tinting was very probably executed by anonymous commercial colorists
hired by Johnson. A second edition was issued in 1806 and reprinted in
1813. Some copies of these two later issues also have hand-colored
plates, but in a style different from the 1796 coloring.
As always, the William Blake Archive is a free site, imposing no access
restrictions and charging no subscription fees. The site is made possible
by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the cooperation of
the international array of libraries and museums that have generously
given us permission to reproduce works from their collections in the
Morris Eaves, Robert N. Essick, and Joseph Viscomi, editors
Ashley Reed, project manager, William Shaw, technical editor
The William Blake Archive
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