Boston Rare Book Week Preview: Blake Etchings

The Boston International Antiquarian Book Fair opened Friday, the perfect prompt to preview one of the show’s incredible highlights, courtesy of John Windle: two original etchings from William Blake’s Songs of Innocence and a single relief etching of the poem “Holy Thursday.”

First, a little background: In the 1780s, Blake revived the art of manuscript illumination, believing, in part, that the Industrial Revolution had degraded an art form into nothing more than a simple commodity. In response, Blake and his wife Catherine painstakingly printed, bound, and hand colored each book he produced. Few originals survive–only nine copies of The Marriage of Heaven and Hell are known to exist, for example. Slightly more endure–forty, to be precise–of Songs of Innocence, the first of Blake’s illuminated works and is a celebration of youthful innocence.  Find out more, and how much these treasures cost, at the Fine Books Blog.