Saturday, August 27, 2011

George Cumberland

George Cumberland was an affluent artist and friend of Blake's. Here are some of his creations.

This man helped Blake in many ways, but perhaps his greatest gift was to suggest to another friend, John Linnell, that he pay a visit to William Blake. The consequence of this friendly suggestion led to the comfort and peace of Blake in his last days as well as considerable financial support.

"Writer, art commentator, watercolour painter, geologist and long time friend of William Blake, Cumberland attended the Royal Academy Schools and endured as an insurance company clerk until an inheritance in 1784 allowed him to travel and live in Florence and Rome. His interest in neoclassicism and the art of ancient Greece led to his treatise Thoughts on outline (1796), and his collaboration with Blake for the engraved plates. Cumberland assisted Blake in many ways, purchasing his work, advocating with booksellers on his behalf and assisting with obtaining commissions. In 1807, he moved to Bristol and became involved not only with geological research and fossil collection but also with local artists whom he assisted. It was from Bristol in 1818, through the agency of his son George Cumberland Jr. that he arranged the introduction of John Linnell to William Blake. In addition to Cumberland 's published work, the Bentley Collection contains a substantial number of his literary manuscripts, including correspondence, commonplace books and sketches." (This from The Bentley Collection at Victoria University.)

Cumberland appears in Blake's Letters 2,3,4,6,10,45,64,89,91 and in
Plates 15 and 71 of Jerusalem;
Excerpts from Letter 2 "

[To] G[eorge] Cumberland Esqr, Bishopsgate
near Egham, Surrey
Lambeth, 6 Decembr 1795 [Postmark: 10 December]
Dear Sir
I congratulate you not on any atchievement. because I
know. that the Genius that produces. these Designs can execute
them in any manner. notwithstanding the pretended Philosophy
which teaches that Execution is the power of One & Invention of
Another--Locke says it i[s the] same faculty that
Invents Judges, & I say he who can Invent can Execute.

Letter 3 [To George Cumberland]
Lambeth 23 Decembr 1796

A Merry Christmas

Dear Cumberland
I have lately had some pricks of conscience on account of
not acknowledging your friendship to me [before]
immediately on the reciet of your. beautiful book. I have
likewise had by me all the summer 6 Plates which you desired me
to get made for you. they have laid on my shelf. without speaking
to tell me whose they were or that they were [there] at
all & it was some time (when I found them) before I could divine
whence they came or whither they were bound or whether they were
to lie there to eternity. I have now sent them to you to be
transmuted, thou real Alchymist!

Letter 4 "To The Revd Dr Trusler
Hercules Build* Lambeth Aug* 16. 1799
Revd Sir
I find more & more that my Style of Designing is a Species
by itself. & in this which I send you have been compelld by my
Genius or Angel to follow where he led if I were to act otherwise
it would not fulfill the purpose for which alone I live. which is
in conjunction with such men as my friend Cumberland to renew the
lost Art of the Greeks
I attempted every morning for a fortnight together to follow
your Dictate. but when I found my attempts were in vain. resolvd
to shew an independence which I know will please an Author better
than slavishly following the track of another however admirable
that track may be At any rate my Excuse must be: I could not do
otherwise, it was out of my power!

Letter 6
"[To] Mr [George] Cumberland, Bishopsgate,
Windsor Great Park
Hercules Buildings, Lambeth. Augst 26. 1799
Dear Cumberland
I ought long ago to have written to you to thank you for
your kind recommendation to Dr Trusler which tho it has faild of
success is not the less to be rememberd by me with Gratitude--
I have made him a Drawing in my best manner he has sent it
back with a Letter full of Criticisms in which he says it accords
not with his Intentions which are to Reject all Fancy from his

Letter 10
"[To] Mr [George] Cumberland, Bishopsgate,
Windsor Great Park

13 Hercules Buildings, Lambeth, 2 July 1800
Dear Cumberland
I have to congratulate you on your plan for a National
Gallery being put into Execution. All your wishes shall in due
time be fulfilled the immense flood of Grecian light & glory
which is coming on Europe will more than realize our warmest
wishes. Your honours will be unbounded when your plan shall be
carried into Execution as it must be if England continues a
Nation. I hear that it is now in the hands of Ministers That the
King shews it great Countenance & Encouragement, that it will
soon be up before Parliament & that it must be extended
& enlarged to take in Originals both of Painting & Sculpture by
considering Every valuable original that is brought into England
or can be purchasd Abroad as its objects of Acquisition. Such is
the Plan as I am told & such must be the plan if England wishes
to continue at all worth notice as you have yourself observd only
now we must possess Originals as well as France or be Nothing
Excuse I intreat you my not returning Thanks at the proper
moment for your kind present. No perswasion could make my
stupid bead believe that it was proper for me to trouble you with
a letter of meer Compliment & Expression of thanks. I begin to
Emerge from a Deep pit of Melancholy, Melancholy without any real
reason for it, a Disease which God keep you from & all good men."
Our artists of all ranks praise your outlines & wish for more.

Cumberland was also mentioned in Recent

Conjectural Attributions on Erdman 785:

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