Autograph document signed, being a receipt made out by Butts and signed by Blake for Blake's greatest paintings.
1805. [London]: 1805.
Document Signed, one page, oblong small octavo, July 5, 1805. “Received of Mr. Butts five Pounds seven Shillings on further account.” Paper browned, small abrasions on back from having been mounted in a book.
§ See Windle: catalogue 26, item #9 (1995). The year 1805 was a hard one for Blake. His works were filled with visions of death and, when several of his patrons drifted away, his financial situation darkened, bringing him to a self-described state of “despair.” “But there was one patron who never seemed to doubt his genius and... Thomas Butts... took over the role of Blake’s principal employer; for the next five years he gave him regular payments that allowed him to maintain a steady if modest income” [Peter Ackroyd, Blake]. Butts’s support and confidence gave Blake new hope and a new artistic vision and he suddenly produced works for Butts that showed “an exultant spirituality that is quite new in Blake’s art. There is also more splendour and nobility in the conception of the human figures, who seem touched by some mystery, a mystery that Blake characteristically suggests through the powerful use of light” [Ackroyd]. Essick noted of this very receipt: “the receipt you just acquired covers very important material. According to Bentley, Blake Records, 2nd ed., p. 764, your receipt (mistakenly) repeats another of the same date and amount specifying that the payment was for 4 of Blake’s great color prints of 1795, The Good and Evil Angels, The House of Death, Elohim Creating Adam, and God Judging Adam. Thus, the receipt is for what are often considered Blake’s greatest masterpieces as a pictorial artist.” Bentley, BB, 134.4.” This is confirmed by Keynes: The Letters of William Blake (1980), p. 113: “5 July 4 prints viz. 1 Good and Evil Angel 2 House of Death 3 God Judging Adam 4 Lamech.” Also: Essick states that Butts was the first person to collect Blake and was single-handedly responsible for keeping Blake going while other buyers came and went. See Essick: “Collecting Blake” in Blake in Our Time, Toronto: UT Press, 2010. Item #123009