Over the past two years, curators at the John Rylands Library have been working with the art historian Colin Trodd and his students at the University of Manchester to uncover a significant hoard of books containing designs and engravings by the artist and poet William Blake.
This includes two copies of Blair’s The Grave with Blake’s designs, a copy of Virgil’s Pastorals containing Blake’s enchanting miniature illustrations (some of which are shown here), an exquisitely hand-coloured copy of Young’s Night Thoughts by Blake, and a copy of his masterpiece The Book of Job, as well as a substantial collection of books containing Blake’s work as a commercial engraver. Due to their dispersal across our collections, many of these works have previously lain undetected. From the 8th February, some of these ‘finds’ will be on display in The John Rylands Library in an exhibition called, ‘Burning Bright’: William Blake and the Art of the Book.
Taking Colin Trodd’s research as its inspiration, this display will also explore the creative impact of Blake’s work and ideas upon some of the artists and writers who followed him in the 19th and 20th centuries, and to examine how they, in turn, shaped his artistic reputation in an afterlife which is still burning bright.