Thursday, August 23, 2012


British Museum
Catherine Blake
1762 - 1831
by Frederick Tatham, Septr. 1828

Because Blake was convinced of the value of his work as a record of his visionary experience, he was careful to provide for its preservation. The quantity of his work which survives is testimony to his success. Often in his lifetime his work was sold to people who recognised the spiritual nature of his work and its value to posterity. Much of his work was maintained in his possession and passed to his wife Catherine on his death in August 1827. She continued to sell items during her lifetime but only if she thought her husband would have approved. Frederick Tatham received much of the residue of William's work on Catherine's death. 

Here is a letter by Tatham included in Discussions of William Blake edited by John E. Grant:

"To Francis Harvey, [dealer]
June 8, 1864

Dear Sir,
The MS  you purchased of me was part of the possessions into which I came by legacy from Mrs. Blake, the widow of that extraordinary and excellent man, William Blake, Visionary, Poet and Painter, who had a consummate knowledge of the great writers in all languages...His knowledge was immense, his industry beyond parallel, and his life innocent, simple and laborious, far beyond that of other men. Childlike, indomitable, proud, and humble, he carried out a sort of purpose in his life which seemed only to produce what was invisible to the natural eye, to the despising of things which are seen: he therefore became wild and his theories wanted solidity; but he was the most delightful and interesting man that ever an intellectual lover of art could spend a day with; and he died as he lived. He was much associated with many of the great men of the age in which he lived, and was meek and companionable with them...
Very faithfully yours,
Frederick Tatham "

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