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William Blake

1757 – 1827

The Fall of Rosamond by William Blake

The Fall of Rosamond   1783

  Stipple engraving with etching by William Blake after T. Stothard, printed in two colours and coloured by hand.
With both artists’ names in the plate.
Ref:  Essick The Separate Plates of William Blake XXV i/ii
S 316 mm diameter; I  307 mm diameter (outer border)
Stipple engraving with etching by William Blake.

Very good impression with unfaded original colouring. In original, unrestored condition and in decorative circular frame (c.1920). Together with a companion piece in matching frame.

Very rare first state impression
printed in two colours, pink (for flesh tones) and brown. Only four other impressions in the first state of this plate are known (only two of which are recorded in Essick’s work of 1980). Coloured by hand with blue green watercolour throughout the sky and foliage areas.

The Fall of Rosamond was the first separate plate which William Blake engraved after a design by his friend Thomas Stothard (1755-1834). Between 1780 and 1785, William Blake engraved at least thirty-three book illustrations and separate plates after Stothard’s designs. Because this represents over half of William Blake’s graphic productions during that period, his early income and reputation as a professional engraver must have been heavily dependant on commissions from Stothard and his publishers. William Blake is recorded to have received £80 for his work on this plate which received specific notice in an article “On Splendour of Colours” in The Repository of Arts for September 1810.

The design illustrates a scene from Thomas Hull’s play Henry the Second; or the Fall of Rosamond: a Tragedy. Rosamond, King Henry’s mistress, is seen kneeling, holding a cup of poison which she is forced to drink by the jealous Queen who stands over her, dagger in hand. Stothard’s drawing of this subject is now lost.

Essick lists only six known examples of this rare print (two in the first state and four in the second state), although a total of eight have now been traced. Only two coloured impressions of this print are owned by any of the museums in this country – a damaged impression is held at the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge and an outstanding example is in the Tate collection. The only other British institution to hold any example of this work is the Royal Academy of Arts in London – a second state impression, printed in brown ink alone, uncoloured, trimmed and pasted down.

The print has been left entirely unrestored, in its original condition. It is trimmed unevenly to a roundel, leaving a margin of approximately 5mm beyond the outer borderline and both Stothard’s and Blake’s names. A section of marginal paper has been used to create a false margin at the lower left outer border of the sheet where the roundel has been trimmed closer to the image. On antique laid paper with unidentified watermark. Generally good original condition.