Extra-illustrated. 1863 Life of William Blake by Alexander Gilchrist


Extra-illustrated with 50 additional plates, this is the first edition of Alexander Gilchrist's Life of William Blake, "Pictor Ignotus".

Per the Contents pages, the Songs of Innocence and Experience are "sixteen of the original plates".

A hand-written note at the front states that there are 50 extra plates; I have provided a breakdown of those plates below. Regarding these plates, I don't see impression marks, so while they are well executed, I do believe that they are produced via photo-lithographs (or some similar technique) and not from the original blocks. I suspect there is a book that was published in the early 1900s that produced these 50 illustrations, but I have been unable to find which one that is.

The spines are damaged, but once removed from the slipcase, the bindings are handsome fine-binding, stamp signed by Bayntun bindery in Bath, England.

About William Blake -

William Blake (1757 –1827) was an English poet, painter, and printmaker. Largely unrecognised during his life, Blake is now considered a seminal figure in the history of the poetry and visual art of the Romantic Age. What he called his "prophetic works" were said by 20th-century critic Northrop Frye to form "what is in proportion to its merits the least read body of poetry in the English language". His visual artistry led 21st-century critic Jonathan Jones to proclaim him "far and away the greatest artist Britain has ever produced". In 2002, Blake was placed at number 38 in the BBC's poll of the 100 Greatest Britons. While he lived in London his entire life, except for three years spent in Felpham, he produced a diverse and symbolically rich collection of works, which embraced the imagination as "human existence itself". - Wikipedia

About the Life of William Blake -

Alexander Gilchrist (1828 – 1861), an English author, is known mainly as a biographer of William Etty and of William Blake. Gilchrist's biography of Blake is still a standard reference work about the poet. Although he studied law, Gilchrist adopted literary and art criticism as his main pursuits. In 1856 he became a next-door neighbor of his friend Thomas Carlyle at Chelsea and his wife Jane Welsh Carlyle, both of them notable writers. Gilchrist had all but finished his Life of William Blake when he contracted scarlet fever from one of his children and died. His wife Anne helped to complete the Life (his magnum opus). Dante Gabriel Rossetti also contributed to the completion of the book.

Bibliographic Details -

Worldcat OCLC record number 1396704785. Notes that the preface is signed "Anne Gilchrist". Not a rare book, when not extra-illustrated. 1st edition. Re-issued in 1880.

Physical Attributes -

2 volumes, finely bound, in a slipcase. Each volume measures approx. 22.5 x 15 x 3.5 cm, quarto. Red calf bindings. Spine with five raised bands; "Life of William Blake" in gilt in one compartment, volume in gilt in one compartment, and "Extra Illustrated 1863" in gilt at base of spine. Marbled endpaper. Leather hinges. Turn-ins framing endpaper, stamped by binder, and with a frame of gilt fillet with corner florets. Extra illustrated.

List of plates -

Below is a list of the plates in this set. While many of them have a tissue with a title printed on them, some of them do not; for the plates with no tissue, I made up a description and these are not the true names of the works.

Plates that are not extra-illustrated: plates called out at Volume 1 in “Directions to Binder” – Frontis portrait, Job plates 8 and 14 at page 4, Plague at 54, Albion’s Angel at 112, From Europe at 126, Spider’s Web at 129, Jerusalem at 182, By Satan’s Watch-Fiends and The Crucifixion at 194, Canterbury at 230 (but used as frontis of V2 here), Job Plate V at 286


4 – Job 8, Job 14

4 – Fire! 1 and 2

12 – God

28 – Gates Paradise

36 – Gates Paradise

50 – God Creating

54 - Plague

58 - Bank of the Thames

76 – Dante Degli Abati in the Lake

80 – Job Restored

90 – 2 woodcuts from Eclogue

110 – 2 woodcuts from Eclogue

112 – Albion’s Angel

115 – 2 Eclogue

120 – 2 Eclogue

127 – From Europe

128 – Title page Los

128 – Spider Web

128 – Children guiding serpent

130 – color man water

138 – color angel woman baby

166 – color rainbow woman

182 – From Jerusalem

182 – Jerusalem page 39

194 – From Jerusalem

202 – Bath Canterbury York

216 – Jesus on Lamb

234 – Zacharias’ Angel

260 – Creating Adam

272 – 2 Eclogues

275 – Paradise Regained

286 – Job V

292 – Christ’s Dream

316 – Pouring a cup on a man

Volume 2

Foldout – Canterbury Pilgrims

4 – Los Enitharmon and Orc – Los Bound with the Chain of Jealousy

16 – Fire

32 – Man Woman Flower

50 – Holy Thursday

52 – Emanation Jerusalem

64 – Paola Francesca

74 – Man above well

98 – Jerusalem Chapter 3

110 – Title Night the Third

114 – Jurizen

126 – Pity

138 – Floating woman and baby

144 – noses pointing

158 – Foreboding man with bell

160 – Heaven to Hell

182 – Paradise Regained, Christ ministered by Angels

185 – Chained woman in wave

192 – Albion contemplating Jesus

206 – Annihilate Jerusalem

217 – Philippa

224 – Albion

232 – Oragon Woman

240 – Jerusalem page 46

254 – Albion turning from daughters

260 – Limbs of Albion

Book of Job – page 1-21

Songs of Innocence (page 6 misnumbered 9), 1-16

Condition -

See pictures. Spines are in rough condition, which also made the joints tender. But the boards, text-blocks, etc. were very well protected by the slipcase and are nice. There's a few spots, a dog-eared page (182), the fore-edges of the Canterbury plate are folded back, etc. but mostly the text block is very clean and the paper is quite bright, the edge gilt bright as well.

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