William Blake's Printed Paintings Methods, Origins, Meanings Joseph Viscomi

Publication date:
25 May 2021
Paul Mellon Centre
256 pages: 270 x 216mm
180 color + b-w illus.
Sales territories:

An in-depth examination of William Blake’s glorious and acclaimed series of twelve monoprints

Among William Blake’s (1757–1827) most widely recognized and highly regarded works as an artist are twelve color printed drawings, or monoprints, conceived and executed in 1795. This book investigates these masterworks, explaining Blake’s technique—one he essentially reinvented, unaware of 17th-century precursors—to show that these works were produced as paintings, and played a crucial role in Blake’s development as a painter. Using material and historical analyses, Joseph Viscomi argues that the monoprints were created as autonomous paintings rather than as illustrations for Blake’s books with an intended viewing order. Enlivened with bountiful illustrations, the text approaches the works within the context of their time, not divorced from ideas expressed in Blake’s writings but not illustrative of or determined by those writings.

Joseph Viscomi is James G. Kenan Distinguished Professor of English Literature at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

“This volume is devoted to a set of twelve pictures created in 1795 and unanimously considered Blake’s highest achievement...Relying on material evidence and sensible deduction, Visconti reconstructs the whole chronology of the twelve pictures.”—Laurent Bury, Cercles