- Museum number
- Series: America: A Prophecy
Copy H, plate 1: frontispiece; to the left, a large winged angel sitting in a gap in a stone wall, his knees raised and head bent down, shackled at the wrists; to the right, a nude female seated on a portion of stone stone, comforting two nude children; the stone wall decorated, clouds above, a portion of cannon bottom left. 1793
Relief etching printed in greyish blue ink
- Production date
Height: 232 millimetres
Width: 169 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- "America" was Blake's response to the American Revolution.
"America" is an illuminated book consisting of 18 relief-etched plates with white-line etching. In addition, at the Library of Congress there are three cancelled plates and, for one of these, a fragment of the original copper-plate (the only surviving relief-etched plate by Blake). There was possibly a fourth cancelled plate: see Keynes & Wolf, William Blake's Illuminated Books: A Census (New York, 1953), 42-43. Two of the plates may have been cancelled because of references to George III: in 1793, references to the king in politically radical publications were in danger of attracting attention as seditious writings. The Pitt administration was active in suppressing such writings from May 1792.
There were fourteen complete copies of "America" printed in Blake's life-time. They are usually uncoloured - except, sometimes, for a small amount of grey wash - and often printed recto/verso, as in most pages of this copy.
Blake's relief etchings are unusual: although relief prints, they were printed in a rolling press designed for intaglio. In "America" the platemarks are sometimes evident, but not always. When discernable, platemarks have been used for measuring purposes; otherwise, the edge of the printed area has been used.
A reproduction of copies A, E and O of "America" (owned by the Morgan Library, the Library of Congress and the Fitzwilliam Museum) can be found at The William Blake Archive, www.blakearchive.org, together with descriptions of that copy, textual transcriptions and a bibliography.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
2000 April-June, Helsinki City Art Gallery, 'William Blake'
2000 Sep-Nov, Prague Castle, 'William Blake'
- Acquisition date
- Acquisition notes
- One of 6 'volumes of various works by Blake, of exceptional rarity' entered by Carpenter in the Bill Book on 13 July 1854.
Copy H of "America" belonged to miniature painter Ozias Humphry; the British Museum acquired it at the same time as Humphry's copies of Blake's Small and Large Books of Designs. Upcott had inherited all three books from Humphry, his father.
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number