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William Blake

4 of 68 portraits by John Linnell

Regency Portraits Catalogue

William Blake

replica by John Linnell
1861, based on a work of 1821
9 in. x 7 in. (229 mm x 178 mm)
NPG 2146

Inscriptionback to top

Inscribed: Portrait of W. BLAKE/J Linnell Senr pt/61/Fac Simile of a Portrait on Ivory/painted from Life by John Linnell 1821, and in pencil on back of paper: W J Linton Nov. 9/61.
The cardboard backing, removed when the drawing was remounted in 1939 and now in registered packet in NPG archive, is inscribed in pencil in a modern hand: signed on the back of the drawing W J Linton Nov. 9/61, and lower down in an earlier hand: Ewbank/Purchased about the close of 1847 from the daughter of Ewbank after his death in the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh. James Hogg.

This portraitback to top

The original of this drawing is a miniature of 1821 in watercolour on ivory in the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, see David Bindman, William Blake: Catalogue of the Collection in the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, 1970, p 56; several related drawings are also in the Fitzwilliam. Linnell's copy of his own miniature was probably made expressly to be engraved for Gilchrist's Life which appeared posthumously in 1863, illustrated by W. J. Linton who signed his name on the back of the drawing. Gilchrist had begun collecting material in 1853 but died suddenly of scarlet fever in 1861 and the book was finished by his widow. Jeens's engraving, clearly dated 61 as in the watercolour copy but sub-titled 1827, appeared as the frontispiece to vol. I. The pencil inscription on the back of the old cardboard backing is inexplicable and presumably refers to another picture altogether, John W. Ewbank, a founder member of the Royal Scottish Academy, having died in 1847, fourteen years before Linnell made his copy.

Physical descriptionback to top

Head and shoulders profile to right, grey curly hair, vivid blue rather prominent eyes, purplish-pink complexion, brown coat with high collar, blue background.

Provenanceback to top

W. J. Linton, engraver and Gilchrist's assistant, 1861; A. S. Bradby, Director of Gooden & Fox Ltd, by whom given 1927.

Reproductionsback to top

Line and stipple by C. H. Jeens published in Gilchrist, Life of William Blake, 1863, I, frontispiece, mistakenly dating the original ivory miniature to 1827.

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