Index Bibliography

A Large Book of Designs

Currently Available:

A Large Book of Designs, copy A, 1796 (British Museum): electronic edition

Dates are the probable dates of printing.

When Blake was printing copy A of A Small Book of Designs for the miniature portrait painter Ozias Humphry in 1796, he apparently also color printed some larger plates as companions. This group, designated copy A of A Large Book of Designs and now in the British Museum, includes the design only from Visions of the Daughters of Albion plate 7, a rejected plate from America with fragments of its text obscured by the printed colors to create a design usually entitled “A Dream of Thiralatha,” four full-page designs etched in relief, and two plates originally etched and engraved in intaglio. These last two, “Albion rose” and “The Accusers of Theft Adultery Murder,” were color printed from their surfaces, not the incised lines, to create prints similar to those pulled from millboards used in the large color prints designed and executed the previous year.

Although apparently bound together at one time, Blake did not stab the leaves and may have issued A Large Book of Designs copy A as unbound color prints. The impressions are not numbered and do not appear to constitute a sequential series. When Blake was printing copy A for Humphry, he apparently pulled an impression of each plate to build up his stock of works. The thinner color printing in these latter impressions indicates that they are second pulls with little if any addition of color to the copperplates. This group, often referred to as copy B of A Large Book of Designs, is now dispersed into several collections. There is no evidence that copy B was issued by Blake as a sequential series; it does not constitute a “copy” or even a “work” as usually defined.

Related Works

Related works currently available in the William Blake Archive appear as links below. Works not currently available appear as plain text.

  • Joseph of Arimathea Preaching to the Inhabitants of Britain
    Pencil sketch, c. 1780. Butlin 76 recto.
    Rosenbach Foundation
    Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • Study for “Glad Day,” “Albion Rose,” or “The Dance of Albion
    Pencil sketch, c. 1780. Butlin 73.
    Victoria and Albert Museum
    London
  • “The Accusers of Theft Adultery Murder”
    Intaglio etching/engraving, c. 1793. Essick VIII.
    1st state, Bodleian Library, Oxford
    2nd state, color printed 1796, Rosenwald Collection, National Gallery of Art, Washington
    3rd state, six institutional collections
  • “Albion Rose”
    Intaglio etching/engraving, c. 1793. Essick VII.
    Color printed 1796, Huntington Library and Art Gallery, San Marino, California
    2nd state, British Museum, London, and Rosenwald Collection, National Gallery of Art, Washington
  • America a Prophecy, plate d ("A Dream of Thiralatha")
    Relief etching, c. 1793, color printed 1796. Essick IX.
    Rosenwald Collection, National Gallery of Art
    Washington, D. C.
  • Joseph of Arimathea Preaching to the Inhabitants of Britain
    Pencil sketch, c. 1820-25. Butlin 780.
    Rosenbach Foundation
    Philadelphia, Pennsylvania