- Museum number
- Series: Songs Of Innocence and Of Experience: Shewing the Two Contrary States of the Human Soul
Copy B, plate 1: title-page to "Songs of Innocence and Of Experience"; a nude female figure lying face-down on a grassy floor, her right knee bent under her, her head on her arms as though lamenting; a nude male figure bending over her, also with his head in his arms, left leg stretched behind him; both figures facing left; their groins covered with vegetation; flames all around. 1794
Colour relief etching in orange and black, with hand colouring
- Production date
Height: 112 millimetres
Width: 68 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- "Songs Of Innocence and Of Experience" is an illuminated book comprised of 54 relief-etched plates when complete. Plates combine poetic verses with illustration, and many plates include textual decoration (not always described here). The plate order, printing techniques and colouring of "Songs" vary from copy to copy.
"Songs" combines "Songs of Innocence" (1789) and "Songs of Experience" (1794); these two books were also advertised separately. Although copies were usually purchased by artists and art collectors, "Songs" takes the form of a children's book and it addresses issues relating to childhood and education.
Copy B of "Songs Of Innocence and Of Experience" was probably completed in 1794. It includes a tailpiece that only appears in three early copies, but excludes the plate "To Tirzah", which was not made until later on. Most of the plates that make up "Songs of Innocence" are here printed in brown ink, and the plates that make up "Songs of Experience" colour-printed in orange and black, with orange as the dominant colour, and additional colours sometimes used as well. All the plates are also hand-coloured. It is worth noting that the exact identification of Blake's techniques, including his colour printing techniques, remains an issue unresolved among scholars.
In copy B, sheets measure approximately 190 x 135 mm, and show the stitching holes from the original paper binding.
The British Museum has three copies of "Songs of Innocence and of Experience": copy A (1924,0726.1.1 - 28 and 1924,0726.2.1 - 22); this copy, copy B (1932,1210.2 - 31); and copy T (1856,0209.337 - 390). There is also an electrotype from "Songs of Innocence" in the collection (1926,0816.1).
Reproductions of copies AA, C, F, L, R, and Z of "Songs" (from the Fitzwilliam Museum, the Library of Congress and the Yale Center for British Art) can be found at The William Blake Archive, www.blakearchive.org.
In this plate, the two figures probably represent Adam and Eve on their expulsion from the Garden of Eden.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
2000 April-June, Helsinki City Art Gallery, 'William Blake'
2000 Sep-Nov, Prague Castle, 'William Blake'
2000/1 Nov-Feb, London, Tate Britain, 'William Blake'
2001 Mar-Jun, NY, Metropolitan Museum of Art, 'William Blake'
- Acquisition date
- Acquisition notes
- Keynes & Wolf, William Blake's Illuminated Books: A Census (New York, 1953), p. 56. For the provenance see the letter from Miss Carey bound with the Trustee reports for November 1932. It reads "My copy of Blake's Songs belonged originally to my mother's aunt, Mrs Charles Warren, wife of Mr Charles Warren, whose name appears as a subscriber in Blair's Grave with illustrations designed by by Blake. From Mrs Charles Warren the Songs came to my mother Lady Carey (not Lady Stafford Carey), wife of Sir P Stafford Carey, Bailiff of Guernsey, and from my mother it came to me. That is was 'got direct from Blake' is of course quite possible, but I never made the statement, not knowing whether it was or was not true, and I cannot think who can have started the idea and given it to the Trustees.' The idea had in fact started with an earlier letter from her to Binyon of 28 November 1932, where she wrote that her aunt was herself an accomplished artist, and 'must have bought it from Blake himself, and must have been an admirer of his, as her husband's name is among the subscribers to Blair's Grave.' [AVG, February 2016]
Emily J. Carey's name and address are inscribed in pencil on the verso of plate 2 of this book.
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number