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William Blake

1757 – 1827

Death of Lucretia by William Blake

Death of Lucretia   1797

  Engraving by William Blake after H. Fuseli.
Signed by William Blake in the plate.
Ref:  Keynes 116 (ii); Essick William Blake’s Commercial Book Illustrations XXXVII.2 only state.
S 175 x 103 mm; I  149 x 82 mm
Engraving by William Blake after H. Fuseli.

Very fine impression with good, clear contrast; from the only edition.

This rare engraving by William Blake after Fuseli was published for the 1798 edition of A New and Improved Roman History… by Charles Allen, A.M. (J.Johnson, London). It was not issued in any other form nor was it included in any other edition of this work. Allen’s publication is now rare.

The source of this design is not known for certain, but is generally accepted to be H. Fuseli. The influence of Fuseli’s work on Blake is widely recognised, but this illustration appears to show far more of Blake’s personal style than the majority of his reproductive engravings. In this design Blake’s superb figurative style is seen at its most expressive, portraying both action and emotions in the most striking and sweeping manner. Here we see a Romantic interpretation of erotic violence – after being raped, Lucretia has stabbed herself to death with the dagger now held aloft by Junius Brutus, who swears to avenge her. Lucretia’s husband, holds her, while Lucretius, her father, stands behind.

This engraving was printed from a single large plate on which were also engraved the three other subjects used in Allen’s publication – only one impression of the grouped images is known.

On warm white wove paper with margins as issued. Right-hand margin uneven, otherwise very fine condition.