The Pastorals of Virgil, with a course of English Reading, adapted for schools: in which the proper facilities are given, enabling youth to acquire the Latin Language in the shortest period of time by Robert John Thornton, M.D.
The Pastorals of Virgil, with a course of English Reading, adapted for schools: in which the proper facilities are given, enabling youth to acquire the Latin Language in the shortest period of time by Robert John Thornton, M.D.
The Pastorals of Virgil, with a course of English Reading, adapted for schools: in which the proper facilities are given, enabling youth to acquire the Latin Language in the shortest period of time by Robert John Thornton, M.D.

WILLIAM BLAKE (1757-1827)

The Pastorals of Virgil, with a course of English Reading, adapted for schools: in which the proper facilities are given, enabling youth to acquire the Latin Language in the shortest period of time by Robert John Thornton, M.D.

1821 London

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Third edition with 232 plates, including 17 wood engravings designed and cut by William Blake, 4 other wood engravings designed by Blake but cut by another hand, a drawing from Poussin by Blake engraved by John Byfield, and 6 line and stipple plates of busts and coins by Blake.

Two volumes. Pp. xii, 12 (contents), v-xxiv (preface), 214; [ii], 215-592. 12mo in 6s, original contemporary sheep, very skilfully rebacked, spine ruled in gilt, dark blue spine labels lettered in gilt, the bottom of the spine has gilt lettered “Pocket edition”, housed in a modern clam shell box with leather gilt tooled spine and marbled paper covered sides and edges. A lovely copy.

In planning a third edition of his popular school adaptation of Virgil, Robert John Thornton employed William Blake to contribute some of the new designs for the work. The result was a series of bold, intense and innovative wood engravings to illustrate the first Eclogue which are some of the most influential in British Art, inspiring Blake’s followers Samuel Palmer, George Richmond and Edward Calvert as well as several twentieth century British artists such as Graham Sutherland and Paul Nash.
On seeing the engravings for the first time, the seventeen year old Samuel Palmer wrote, “They are visions of little dells, and nooks and corners of Paradise; models of the exquisitest pitch of intense poetry. I thought of their light and shade, and looking upon them I found no word to describe them…There is in all such a mystic and dreamy glimmer as penetrates and kindles the inmost soul, and gives complete and unreserved delight, unlike the gaudy daylight of this world.” (Life and Letters, p.15-5).

According to Gilchrist in his Life of Blake (vol.I, p.318) Thornton was rather alarmed by Blake’s work but was persuaded to use them by the intercession of Linnell, Sir Thomas Lawrence and James Ward. At the foot of the frontispiece (the first of Blake’s series) Thornton and the publisher felt they to explain Blake’s unconventional illustrations saying, rather apologetically, that the images “of this English pastoral...display less of art than genius, and are much admired by some eminent painters”.
An extremely good copy
Gilchrist, vol I p.318, Bentley 504, Bindman, nos 602-18, Keynes 77
Dimensions
Height 20.00 cm (7.87 inches)
Width 12.00 cm (4.72 inches)
Medium
Wood Engraving
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