This morning we published our autumn issue, which will be open access for the next week or so. Publication day is always a big relief but also a proud moment.
Our lead is a remembrance of the late G. E. (Jerry) Bentley by his former student and longtime friend Karen Mulhallen. It’s a lovely tribute not only to Jerry but also to his wife, Beth, and I’m sure readers will find in it the Jerry that they knew or knew of. Our next issue will contain his final article for us, on the collector A. S. W. Rosenbach and Blake.
The main article is the fruit of Martin Myrone’s research on students at the Royal Academy. Although relatively little is known of Blake’s experience at the academy (he enrolled in October 1779), Martin surveyed the biographies and family backgrounds of other students of the time to assess how Blake fitted in. I highly recommend the introduction even if you don’t read closely all 236 biographical entries for the famous—Thomas Stothard, James Gillray—and not so famous (though Martin very much hopes for feedback on and corrections to the details in the entries). Two of my favorite nuggets of information are about Francis Tadman—”Oddly, in 1786 he had taken out an advertisement in the local press to refute the rumor that he had been the highwayman who had robbed a couple on the road at Blackheath”—and John Deare, who “died in Rome in 1798, reportedly from a chill caught while sleeping on a cold block of marble seeking inspiration.”
In summer we published Martin Butlin’s “Blake’s Unfinished Series of Illustrations to Paradise Lost for John Linnell: An Addition,” which argued that a newly discovered watercolor of Adam and Eve Asleep is by Blake and was intended as part of the Linnell set of illustrations to Paradise Lost. Under our “Discussion” rubric, the autumn issue includes three dissenting opinions, by David Bindman, Robert N. Essick, and Joseph Viscomi, plus Martin Butlin’s reply to their points. He concludes: “Perhaps the only way forward is to compare all the related works side by side in the flesh. A possible opportunity would be the rumored forthcoming exhibition to be devoted to Blake at Tate Britain, provided that the organizers would agree and that the putative lenders would be agreeable.”