Sunday, October 20, 2013


This is a continuation of the post BLAKE & FUSELI II with Blake's illustrations to Blair's The Grave  and comments attributed to Blake's friend Henry Fuseli. 

Wikimedia commons supplied the images for the links. The original watercolor designs rather than the engravings from the book are shown.


"When the dread trumpet sounds, the slumb'ring dust, Not unattentive to the call, awakes"; while the world in flames typifies the renovation of all things, the end of Time, and the beginning of Eternity.


The Body springs from the grave, the Soul descends from an opening cloud; they rush together with inconceivable energy; they meet, never again to part!


 The sweet felicity, the endearing tenderness, the ineffable affection, that are here depicted, are sufficiently obvious. The Husband clasps the Wife; the Children embrace; the Boy recognises and eagerly springs to his Father.

Christ coming to judgment in the clouds of heaven, with the "Thrones set, and the Books opened." On his knees lies the Book of Life. The Recording Angels kneel on each side of his throne, and the Elders are also seated on each side of Him to judge the world. Surrounding the throne are the blessed, entering into their joy; and arising from these, on each hand, are two clouds of figures: one with the insignia of Baptism; the other with the insignia of the Lord's Supper, inclosing a glorification of angels, with harps. Beneath, on the right hand of Christ, are the blessed, rising in the air to judgment; on the left hand are the cursed: Some are precipitating themselves from the face of Him that sitteth on the Throne (among them is Satan, wound round with the Serpent), others are pleading their own righteousness, and others, beneath, fleeing with banners and spears among the rocks, crying to the "rocks to cover them." Beneath these are represented the harlot's mystery, and the dragon, who flee before the face of the Judge. In the centre, standing on the midst of the earth, is the angel with the last trumpet. On each side of him is an angel: that on the left is drawing his sword on the wicked; that on the right is sheathing his sword on the just, who are rising in various groups, with joy and affection, family by family. The angel with the trumpet, and his accompanying ministers of judgment, are surrounded by a column of flame, which spreads itself in various directions over the earth, from which the dead are bursting forth, some in terror, some in joy. On the opening cloud, on each hand of Christ, are two figures, supporting the books of remembrance: that over the just is beheld with humiliation; that over the wicked with arrogance. A sea of fire issues from beneath the throne of Christ, destructive to the wicked, but salutary to the righteous. Before the sea of Fire the clouds are rolled back, and the heavens "are rolled together as a scroll."


Quote from the web page of The Manhattan Rare Book Company:  
"These illustrations must always remain among [Blake's] greatest. They are much less illustrations of Blair than expressions of his own moods and visions. We see the body and soul rushing into each other's arms at the last day, the soul hovering over the body and exploring the recesses of the grave, and the good and bad appearing before the judgement seat of God, not as these things appeared to the orthodox eyes of Blair, but as they appeared to the mystical eyes of William Blake." Tom Paulin

Advertisement for an original edition of Blair's The Grave with Blake's illustrations.

Information from the University of South Carolina Library.

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