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William Blake. 1757-1827.

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Illustrations of The Book of Job. Large folio 19 3/4 x 13 1/2). A complete set of the 1874 edition of 100 pulled from the original plates and published by John Linnell, printed by Holdgate Brothers on India paper mounted on heavy unwatermarked wove paper in 1874. In 1919 the copperplates went to the British Museum Print Room. $35,000 the complete set

Blake's Illustrations of the Book of Job were first commissioned and paid for in 1826 by John Linnell, when 215 proof sets and 100 sets "on drawing paper" were issued. According to Linnell's son, the plates were then put away for the best part of fifty years, before 100 fresh prints were struck; "my father considered the plates at the last [1874] were as good as they ever were, for the work being cut by a graver, and not etched, it is durable - and is not worn by the printing as is the case with an etching" (Bentley p.523).

The India paper set is the best printing of these famous plates which comprise Blake's major single achievement as a printmaker after the illuminated books. Illustrations of the Book of Job was Blake's last completed prophetic book: the text, a series of biblical quotations, is above and below each image. "It was produced while Blake was still working on Jerusalem, his most obscure book; yet the illustrations are Blake's most lucid; and they are the supreme example of his reading the Bible in its spiritual sense" (S. Foster Damon, A Blake Dictionary, p. 217).

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[Title Page.] ILLUSTRATIONS of The BOOK of JOB Invented & Engraved by William Blake 1825.
London Published as the Act directs March 8:1825 by William Blake No 3 Fountain Court, Strand.
1823-25. Engraving. Engraving.Binyon 105.ii; Bindman 625. 7 3/8 x 5 5/8 (sheet 19 3/4 x 12 3/4).

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[Illustration I]. Job and His Family. 1823-25. Engraving. Binyon 106.ii; Bindman 626. 7 x 5 3/4 (sheet 19 3/4 x 12 3/4).

Our Father which art in Heaven hallowed be thy Name
Thus did Job continually
There was a Man in the Land of Uz whose Name was Job. & that Man was perfect & upright & one that feared God & eschewed Evil & there was born unto him Seven Sons & Three Daughters
The Letter Killeth The Spirit giveth Life
It is Spiritually Discerned.

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[Illustration II.] Satan Before the Throne of God. 1823-25. Engraving. Binyon 107.i4; Bindman 627. 7 3/4 x 5 7/8 (sheet 19 3/4 x 12 3/4).

I beheld the Ancient of Days Hast thou considered my Servant Job
The Angel of the Divine Presence
I shall see God
We shall awake up
Thou art our Father
in thy Likeness
When the Almighty was yet with me. When my Children were about me
There was a day when the Sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord & Satan came also among them to present himself before the Lord.

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[Illustration III.] The Destruction of Job's Sons. 1823-25. Engraving. Binyon 108.iii; Bindman 628. 7 7/8 x 6 1/16 (sheet 19 3/4 x 12 3/4).

The Fire of God is fallen from Heaven
And the Lord said unto Satan. Behold All that he hath is in thy Power
Thy Sons and thy Daughters were eating & drinking Wine in their eldest Brothers house & behold there came a great wind from the Wilderness & smote upon the four faces of the house & it fell upon the young Men & they are Dead.

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[Illustration IV.] The Four Messengers Tell Job of his Misfortunes. 1823-25. Engraving. Binyon 109.ii; Bindman 629. 7 3/4 x 6 (sheet 19 3/4 x 12 3/4).

And there came a Messenger unto Job & said The Oxen were plowing & the Sabeans came down & they have slain the Young Men with the Sword
Going to & fro in the Earth & walking up and down in it
And I only am escaped alone to tell thee.
While he was yet speaking there came also another & said
The fire of God is fallen from the heaven & hath burned up the flocks & the Young Men & consumed them & I only am escaped alone to tell thee.

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[Illustration V.] Satan Going Forth from the Presence of the Lord. 1823-25. Engraving. Binyon 110.ii; Bindman 630. 7 7/8 x 6 (sheet 19 3/4 x 12 3/4).

Did I not weep for him who was in trouble? Was not my Soul afflicted for the Poor
Behold he is in thy hand: but save his life
Then went Satan forth from the presence of the Lord
And it grieved him at his heart
Who maketh his Angels Spirits & his Ministers a Flaming Fire]

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[Illustration VI.] Satan Smiting Job with Boils. 1823-25. Engraving. Binyon 111.ii; Bindman 631. 7 7/8 x 6 (sheet 19 3/4 x 12 3/4).

Naked came I out of my mothers womb & Naked shall I return thither
The Lord gave & the Lord hath taken away. Blessed be the Name of the Lord
And smote Job with sore Boils from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head.

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[Illustration VII.] Job's Comforters. 1823-25. Engraving. Binyon 112.ii; Bindman 632. 7 5/8 x 5 15/16 (sheet 19 3/4 x 12 3/4).

What! shall we receive Good at the hand of God & shall we not also receive Evil
And when they lifted up their eyes afar off & knew him not they lifted up their voices & wept. & they rent every Man his mantle & sprinkled dust upon their heads towards heaven
Ye have heard of the Patience of Job and have seen the end of the Lord.

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[Illustration VIII.] Job's Despair. 1823-25. Engraving. Binyon 113.ii; Bindman 633. 7 5/8 x 5 7/8.

Lo let that night be solitary & let no joyful voice come therein
Let the Day perish wherein I was Born
And they sat down with him upon the ground seven days & seven nights & none spake a word unto him for they saw that his grief was very great.

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[Illustration IX.] The Vision of Eliphaz. 1823-25. Engraving. Binyon 114.iii; Bindman 634. 7 3/4 x 6 (sheet 19 3/4 x 12 3/4).

Shall mortal Man be more Just than God? Shall a Man be more Pure than his Maker? Behold he putteth no trust in his Saints & his Angels he chargeth with Folly
Then a Spirit passed before my face the hair of my flesh stood up.

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[Illustration X.] Job Rebuked by his Friends. 1823-25. Engraving. Binyon 115.iii; Bindman 635. 7 3/4 x 6 (sheet 19 3/4 x 12 3/4).

But he knoweth the way that I take when he hath tried me I shall come forth like gold
Have pity upon me! Have pity upon me. O ye my friends for the hand of God hath touched me
Though he slay me yet will I trust in him
The Just Upright Man is laughed to scorn
Man that is born of a Woman is of few days & full of trouble he cometh up like a flower & is cut down he fleeth also as a shadow & continueth not. And dost thou open thine eyes upon such a one & bringest me into judgment with thee.

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[Illustration XI.] Job's Evil Dreams. 1823-25. Engraving. Binyon 116.v; Bindman 636. 7 3/4 x 6 (sheet 19 3/4 x 12 3/4).

My bones are pierced in me in the night season & my sinews take no rest
My skin is black upon me & my bones are burned with heat
The triumphing of the wicked is short, the joy of the hypocrite is but for a moment
Satan himself is transformed into an Angel of Light & his Ministers into Ministers of Righteousness
With Dreams upon my bed thou scarest me & affrightest me with Visions
Why do you persecute me as God & are not satisfied with my flesh. Oh that my words were printed in a Book that they were graven with an iron pen & lead in the rock for ever
For I know that my Redeemer liveth & that he shall stand in the latter days upon the Earth & after my skin destroy thou This body yet in my flesh shall I see God whom I shall see for Myself and mine eyes shall behold & not Another tho consumed be my wrought Image
Who opposeth & exalteth himself above all that is called God or is Worshipped.

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[Illustration XII.] The Wrath of Elihu. 1823-25. Engraving. Binyon 117.ii; Bindman 637. 7 3/4 x 6 (sheet 19 3/4 x 12 3/4).

For God speaketh once yea twice & Man percieveth it not
In a Dream in a Vision of the Night in deep Slumberings upon the bed Then he openeth the ears of Men & sealeth their instruction
That he may withdraw Man from his purpose & hide Pride from Man If there be with him an Interpreter One among a Thousand
then he is gracious unto him & saith Deliver him from going down to the Pit I have found a Ransom
For his eyes are upon the ways of Man & he observeth all his goings


I am Young and ye are very Old wherefore I was afraid
Lo all these things worketh God oftentimes with Man to bring back his Soul from the Pit to be enlightened with the light of the living
Look upon the heavens & behold the clouds which are higher than thou
If thou sinnest what doest thou against him or if thou be righteous what givest thou unto him.

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[Illustration XIII.] The Lord Answering Job out of the Whirlwind. 1823-25. Engraving. Binyon 118.ii; Bindman 638. 7 7/8 x 5 15/16. (sheet 19 3/4 x 12 3/4).

Who is this that darkeneth counsel by words without knowledge
Then the Lord answered Job out of the Whirlwind
Who maketh the Clouds his Chariot & walketh on the Wings of the Wind
Hath the Rain a Father & who hath begotten the Drops of Dew.

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[Illustration XIV.] The Creation. 1823-25. Engraving. Binyon 119.iii; Bindman 639. 7 1/16 x 5 15/16 (sheet 19 3/4 x 12 3/4).


Canst thou bind the sweet influences of Pleiades or loose the bands of Orion
Let there Be Light
Let there be A Firmament
Let the Waters be gathered together into one place & let the Dry Land appear
And God made Two Great Lights Sun Moon
Let the Waters bring forth abundantly
Let the Earth bring forth Cattle & Creeping thing & Beast
When the morning Stars sang together & all the Sons of God shouted for joy]

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[Illustration XV.] Behemoth and Leviathan. 1823-25. Engraving. Binyon 120.ii; Bindman 640. 7 15/16 x 6 (sheet 19 3/4 x 12 3/4).
Can any understand the spreadings of the Clouds the noise of his Tabernacle
Also by watering he wearieth the thick cloud He scattereth the bright cloud also it is turned about by his counsels
Of Behemoth he saith, He is chief of the ways of God Of Leviathan he saith, He is King over all the Children of Pride
Behold now Behemoth which I made with thee.

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[Illustration XVI.] The Fall of Satan. 1823-25. Engraving. Binyon 121.iii; Bindman 641. 7 15/16 x 6 (sheet 19 3/4 x 12 3/4).

Hell is naked before him & Destruction has no covering
Canst thou by searching find out God Canst thou find out the Almighty to perfection
The Accuser of our Brethren is Cast down which accused them before our God day & night
It is higher than Heaven what canst thou do It is deeper than Hell what canst thou know
The Prince of this World shall be cast out
Thou hast fulfilled the Judgment of the Wicked
Even the Devils are Subject to Us thro thy Name. Jesus said unto them I saw Satan as lightning fall from Heaven
God hath chosen the foolish things of the World to confound the wise And God hath chosen the weak things of the World to confound the things that are mighty.

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[Illustration XVII.] The Vision of God. 1823-25. Engraving. Binyon 122.ii; Bindman 642. 7 7/8 x 5 15/16 (sheet 19 3/4 x 12 3/4).

He bringeth down to the Grave & bringeth up
we know that when he shall appear we shall be like him for we shall see him as He Is
When I behold the Heavens the work of thy hands the Moon & Stars which thou hast ordained, then I say, What is Man that thou art mindful of him? & the Son of Man that thou visitest him
I have heard thee with the hearing of the Ear but now my Eye seeth thee
He that hath seen me hath seen my Father also I & my Father are One
If you had known me ye would have known my Father also and from henceforth ye know him & have seen him
Believe me that I am in the Father & the Father in me He that loveth me shall be loved of my Father for he dwelleth in you & shall be with you
He that loveth me shall be loved of my Father & I will love him & manifest myself unto him And my Father will love him & we will come unto him & make our abode with him
And the Father shall give you Another Comforter that he may abide with you for ever Even the Spirit of Truth which the World Cannot receive
At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father & you in me & I in you
If ye loved me ye would rejoice because I said I go unto the Father.

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[Illustration XVIII.] Job's Sacrifice. 1823-25. Engraving. Binyon 123.iii; Bindman 643. 7 3/8 x 5 7/8 (sheet 19 3/4 x 12 3/4).

Also the Lord accepted Job
And my Servant Job shall pray for you
And the Lord turned the captivity of Job when he prayed for his Friends
I say unto you Love your Enemies bless those that curse you do good to those that hate you & pray for those that despitefully use & persecute you
That you may be the children of your Father which is in heaven, for he maketh his sun to shine on the Evil & the Good & sendeth the rain on the Just & the Unjust
Be ye therefor perfect as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.

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[Illustration XIX.] Job Accepting Charity. 1823-25. Engraving. Binyon 124.iv; Bindman 644. 7 13/16 x 5 15/16 (sheet 19 3/4 x 12 3/4).

The Lord maketh Poor & maketh Rich
He bringeth Low & Lifteth Up
who provideth for the Raven his Food When his young ones cry unto God.
Every one also gave him a piece of Money
Who remembered us in our low estate For his Mercy endureth forever.

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[Illustration XX.] Job and his Daughters. 1823-25. Engraving. Binyon 125.iv; Bindman 645. 7 13/16 x 5 15/16 (sheet 19 3/4 x 12 3/4). Professionally-repaired fold in the top right-hand corner.

How precious are thy thoughts unto me O God how great is the sum of them
There were not found Women fair as the Daughters of Job in all the Land & their Father gave them Inheritance among their Brethren
If I ascend up into Heaven thou art there If I make my bed in Hell behold Thou art there.

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[Illustration XXI.] Job and his Wife Restored to Prosperity. 1823-25. Engraving. Binyon 126.iii; Bindman 646. 7 13/16 x 5 15/16 (sheet 19 3/4 x 12 3/4).

Great & Marvellous are thy Works Lord God Almighty
Just & True are thy Ways O thou King of Saints
So the Lord blessed the latter end of Job more than the beginning
After this Job lived an hundred & forty years & saw his Sons & his Sons Sons
even four Generations So Job died being old & full of days
In burnt Offerings for Sin thou hast had no Pleasure.

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Blake’s original copperplates remained in the possession of the Linnell family, and as late as 1863, Linnell was offering for sale sets of the India-paper and French-paper issues. By 1874 these must have been sold, as in 1874, eight years before his death, Linnell authorised a further hundred sets to be printed to allow each member of his family to have a copy . The plates were printed on India paper mounted on sturdy white wove paper. Linnell's son wrote "My father considered the plates at the last [1874] were as good as they ever were, for the work being cut by a graver, and not etched, it is durable- and is not worn by the printing as is the case with an etching." After Linnell's death the plates were given to the British Museum on the understanding that no further copies should be printed. The plates are now in the British Museum.

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Individual plated from Illustrations to the Book of Job.

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Job's Comforters. 'And When They Lifted Up Their Eyes Afar Off'. 1823-25. Engraving. Binyon 112.ii; Bindman 632. Image 7 11/16 x 5 7/8; plate 8 5/8 x 6 3/4; sheet 14 7/16 x 10 5/8. Series: Illustrations of The Book of Job, #7. From the original edition of 315 (published by John Linnell in 1826, printed on on 'J WHATMAN TURKEY MILL 1925' drawing paper. A superb, richly-inked impression printed on the full sheet. Signed and dated in the plate. $3,500.

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Then a Spirit Passed Before My Face the Hair of My Flesh Stood Up. (Job iv.15) 1823-25. Engraving. 1823-25. Binyon 114.iii; Bindman 634. Image 8 1/16 x 6; plate 8 9/16 x 6 11/16; sheet 18 1/4 x 13 1/28. Series: Illustrations of The Book of Job, #9. From the 1874 edition of 100 published by John Linnell, printed on laid India paper mounted on white wove paper (after the previous editions totaling 315). A superb, richly-inked impression printed on the full sheet. Signed and dated in the plate. $3,000.

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The Wrath of Elihu: 'I Am Young, And Ye Are Very Old, Wherefore I Was Afraid.'1825. Engraving. Binyon 117.ii, Bindman 637. Image 7 7/8 x 5 15/16; plate 8 5/8 x 6 5/8; sheet 17 3/4 x 12 3/4. Series: Illustrations of The Book of Job, #12. From the 1874 edition of 100 published by John Linnell, printed on laid India paper mounted on white wove paper (after the previous editions totaling 315). A superb, richly-inked impression printed on the full sheet. Signed and dated in the plate. $3,000.

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Blake's friend the artist John Linnell saw this publication as a means of providing the aging Blake with an income. "Blake had produced for Butts a series of nineteen watercolour illustrations to the book of Job in 1805-6. Linnell traced these in September 1821; Blake later coloured the tracings and added two more designs. This work provided the basis for the contract, signed by Linnell and Blake on 25 March 1823, to engrave the Job illustrations. The commission provided Blake an income of about £1 a week from 1823 through 1825" ( Although the plates are dated March 1825, they were not actually printed until March 1826. Of the "Proof" sets, Bentley records 150 on "India paper" (mounted on sheets watermarked J. Whatman Turkey Mill 1825), and 65 on "French paper" (with the watermark J. Whatman 1825). The word "Proof" was then removed from the lower right corner of the plates, although it remains faintly visible on several, and 100 sets were printed on "drawing paper".

Blake’s original copperplates remained in the possession of the Linnell family, and as late as 1863, Linnell was offering for sale sets of the India-paper and French-paper issues. By 1874 these must have been sold, as in 1874, eight years before his death, Linnell authorised a further hundred sets to be printed to allow each member of his family to have a copy . The plates were printed on India paper mounted on sturdy white wove paper. Linnell's son wrote "My father considered the plates at the last [1874] were as good as they ever were, for the work being cut by a graver, and not etched, it is durable- and is not worn by the printing as is the case with an etching." After Linnell's death the plates were given to the British Museum on the understanding that no further copies should be printed. The plates are now in the British Museum.

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