Blake first met John Linnell through the son of his friend George Cumberland. The two men found that they could be helpful to one another. Linnell recognized that he could enjoy the company of an artistic and spiritual genius at the same time as he offered employment and economic support to a man of talent who had sunk into obscurity. The project of producing the book of Illustrations of the Book of Job was the outcome of the collaboration between Blake and Linnell.
As recorded on Page 169 of The Life of John Linnell, Volume 1 by Alfred Thomas Story the two men entered into an agreement to publish the book of illustrations based on the painting which Blake had created for Thomas Butts years before.
"The engravings were begun in 1823, and the agreement referred to by Gilchrist has reference to them alone. The agreement reads as follows:
'March 25, 1823.—Mem. of agreement between W. B. and J. L. W. B. to engrave the set of plates from his designs to "Job," in number 20, for J. L. J. L. to pay W. B. £5 per plate, part before, and remainder when plates are finished. Also, J. L. to pay Mr. B., £100 more out of the profits of the work as the receipts will admit of it. J. L. to find copper-plates.—(Signed) W. B., J. L.'
No profits accrued from the engravings, the sale of which barely covered the expenses. Linnell, however, seeing that the plates and the stock of engravings remained in his hands, treated Blake in a generous manner, and gave him an extra £50, which was disbursed to him from time to time, according to his needs, between March, 1823, and October, 1825. The sum which Blake thus received —in all £150—was the largest he had up to the latter date received for one commission."
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Memorandum of agreement between William Blake and John Linnell