Our sizzling summer 2020 issue—vol. 54, no. 1—is out today and, as usual, will be open access until the end of the month.
The cover image is The Horse from the Yale Center for British Art, one of the works lent to the 2019–20 Tate Britain exhibition. The original is 10.6 x 6.4 cm. and painted on a copper support, which led me to think about other Blake works painted on copper. There are several on biblical subjects—Eve Tempted by the Serpent, The Judgment of Solomon, The Nativity, The Miracle of the Loaves and the Fishes, Christ’s Entry into Jerusalem, and one now untraced, Christ with the Doctors in the Temple. Are there any others not related to the Bible?
The other contender for the cover was Christian with the Shield of Faith (National Gallery of Art, Washington), the only Bunyan illustration not exhibited at the Tate and the only one I could easily have reproduced, the others being in a private collection. It was the frontrunner for a while, but I find it difficult to get images with such subtle coloring to make an impact on a cover, so The Horse trampled the competition (if not Marcella, the mother in the poem by Hayley that the image illustrates) in the end.
Summer has long signified our checklist of publications, and now includes separate accounts of exhibitions and music as well, all with insightful introductions. We add links to make connecting to each article, work displayed, or musical setting as easy as possible.
For the work entries for the exhibitions, I found it challenging to make the formatting consistent both within the largest category, the Tate listings, and across exhibitions. In the “List of Exhibited Works” in its catalogue, the Tate follows the titles used by lending institutions. For the Books of Designs, for instance, this leads to a situation where the Tate catalogue gives some titles and plate numbers based on the illuminated books from which the designs come, and some based on the plate order assigned to the Books of Designs as works in themselves. My predicament reminded me of a common lament—whenever you try to stuff Blake into a box, bits start to pop out and you have to sit on the lid to hold it down, all while smiling and pretending that nothing is wrong.
Our latest back issue to become fully open access is summer 2015 (vol. 49, no. 1). The Bentley checklist contains a description of posthumous copy i of Songs, previously in private hands and acquired at auction by the University of Toronto in 2014. There are also reviews of Martha Redbone, The Garden of Love: Songs of William Blake (“living music, transporting the incisive ethical and political critique at the heart of Blake’s imaginative vision to an Appalachian landscape”); Roderick Tweedy, The God of the Left Hemisphere: Blake, Bolte Taylor, and the Myth of Creation (“compares the attributes of Blake’s Urizen to the characteristics of left-brain-dominated minds, suggesting that Blake’s mythology anticipates the claims of contemporary neurologists who study the lateralization of brain functions”); the 2014 Blake exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria (“the jewels in the crown of the NGV’s collection are the thirty-six illustrations for Dante’s Divine Comedy“); and Martin Priestman, The Poetry of Erasmus Darwin (“especially recommended to Blakeans of every kind I can think of, not so much for what we can learn about Blake directly but for what we can learn about the broad intellectual milieu of the turn of that century”).