Songs of Innocence. A Cradle Song [two plates].

Songs of Innocence. A Cradle Song [two plates].
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London: The Author & Printer W. Blake, 1789. Two relief etchings printed in light brown, with extensive hand-coloring in watercolor and additions in black ink, numbered by Blake 15 and 16 respectively, in black ink in the upper right corners, on wove paper with partial Buttanshaw watermarks, with unusually wide margins, stitching holes (partly filled in) in the left margin, with some pale discoloration around the images and slightly darker discoloration and some minor foxing in the extreme sheet edges, the first also with a small paper flaw in the center right margin, just outside the image and some tiny nicks and folds in the margin edges, otherwise both in good condition. Tiny collector’s blindstamp bottom right corner of each plate. Measures: 113 by 72 and 113 by 71 mm; 5 1/8 by 3 7/8 and 5 1/8 by 3 13/16 ins. on leaf -- 208 by 149 and 209 by 144 mm, 8 3/16 by 5 7/8 in and 8 1/4 by 5 11/16 ins. These two plates are from a copy (designated copy Y) recorded but untraced until discovered by Detlef Doerrbecker in Germany in 1980. A Cradle Song sold at Sotheby’s New York, 1 Nov. 2007, lot 21, for $115,000 on an estimate of $10,000-15,000. Bindman 62 and 63; Bentley pls. 16 and 17 (p. 364 onwards). Modeled on “Cradle Hymn” in Watts’s Divine and Moral Songs... Blake’s draft for a contrary song of the same title in his Notebook was not published in Experience. (Johnson and Grant, Blake’s Poetry and Designs, p.20). See BBS 119-20 and Detlef W. Dörrbecker, “Innocence Lost and Found: An Untraced Copy Traced,” Blake 15.3 (winter 1981-82): 125-31, with illus. of “The Shepherd,” “The Little Black Boy” (2nd pl.), “The Little Boy Found,” and “Cradle Song” (2nd pl.). Pl. 16: “A Cradle Song,” I. The flourishing branches are either brown (i.e. the printing color), or a lusterless green; the tiny figures have not been hand-colored. The text is set off against yellow, blue, and rose colored washes which run down the margins (at the left: yellow; at the upper right: blue, and at the lower right: pinkish red); these have also been extended horizontally between the lines of the text. To the left of the title and of the fourth stanza a few of the plant ornaments have been worked over with pen and ink.Pl. 17 (illus. 4): “A Cradle Song,” II. The plant-like flourishes above, below, and between the two remaining stanzas on this page have been colored green, modulating towards yellow; they, as well as the woman carrying a child to the left of 11. 26-28, have been given stronger outlines with the pen. The design below is composed of only three different hues: the floor, chair, and cradle, as well as the mother’s hair, are colored a light brown; the curtain is blue and vividly structured by the printed lineament in pale brown; at the left—behind the woman’s back—it is covered with dark gray-blue shading; finally, the woman’s dress is tinted with the bright pinkish carmine red that has been observed so often in this copy. The faces of mother and child, the outlines and drapery folds of the woman’s dress, the chair, and even some of the folds in the curtain have all been forcefully strengthened with pen and black ink. (Item Id: 108504)

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