London: Trianon Press, 1972. 3 volumes, folio, with 116 color facsimile leaves reproduced by collotype and hand-stencil color, the text of the poems reproduced from copper-plate with 3 additional printings to reproduce Blake’s pencillings and the tone of the paper. Marbled boards, morocco backstrips, slipcases, backstrips stained, slipcases worn, internally a fine set as issued. Edition limited to 518 copies in all (including 100 copies for Paul Mellon personally) of which 12 copies were a super de luxe issue in three volumes with extra material, 36 copies were a de luxe issue also with extra material but in sheets unbound,18 copies were hors commerce (contents unrecorded), and 352 copies either bound in 3 volumes in slipcases, or as a single set of the loose sheets in a box. This is copy #37.
In this, one of Blake’s most extravagant tours de force, he took Gray’s poems as a springboard for epic watercolors. Mounting the text on a large sheet, he painted all around the margins some of his most powerful and striking designs. The illustrations to a poem on the death of a favorite cat drowned in a goldfish bowl, for example, are a classic example of his visionary powers transcending the prosaic. The Trianon Press reproductions are recognized as the finest examples of the art of facsimile reproduction; working from the originals in Paul Mellon’s collection, each leaf is faithfully hand-colored through stencils to achieve an astonishing exactitude. The Times Literary Supplement stated that nothing like these books had ever been printed before and that it was highly unlikely that they could be printed again. Bentley, Blake Books, 385. Item #110681