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August Issue 2006

University of South Carolina in Columbia, SC, Offers Exhibit on William Blake
The University of South Carolina is featuring an exhibition on the works and life of English Romantic poet and artist William Blake at the university's Thomas Cooper Library. The exhibit, William Blake, Visionary and Illustrator, will be on display in the library's mezzanine gallery, through Sept. 15, 2006.
The exhibit will feature illuminated or hand-copied, embellished books and drawings by Blake, who lived from 1757 - 1827 and helped usher in the Romantic Era. The centerpiece of the exhibition is an original engraving by Blake from his series, Illustrations of the Book of Job (1825). The first edition with Blake engravings of William Hayley's poem, The Triumphs of Temper (1803), also is on display.
The exhibition chronicles Blake's development as an independent visionary and respected craftsman-engraver and illustrator. In addition to early works as an apprentice engraver in the 1770s, there are examples of Blake's political and prophetic poems of the 1790s and early 1800s, as well as illustrations of deep emotion that he prepared for Edward Young's poem, Night Thoughts (1796-97), and Robert Blair's The Grave (1808). His political sensitivity and humanity are evident in his illustrations for John Stedman's Narrative (1796) about the suppression of slave revolts in colonial Surinam (now Guyana).
The illuminated books and drawings are only part of Blake's achievement, however. He also illustrated works by other writers, including Homer, Dante, Chaucer, Shakespeare, Milton and Gray, as well as several biblical books, which are featured in the exhibit.

The Blake exhibit draws on the resources of Thomas Cooper Library's prominent department of rare books and special collections. The original editions of many of the books for which Blake prepared engravings were acquired by the South Carolina College library soon after publication. The illuminated books of poetry for which he is now best known, including Songs of Innocence (1789), Songs of Experience (1794), Europe (1794) and Jerusalem (1804), are shown in the Trianon Press color facsimiles sponsored by the Blake Trust, which were purchased for Thomas Cooper Library 30 years ago with support from the John Shaw Billings Endowment.
The engraving from Illustrations of the Book of Job was acquired with support from the Nancy Pope Rice and Nancy Rice Davis Library Treasures Endowment, and engravings for The Triumphs of Temper were purchased with gifts in memory of Mrs. James Willard Oliver.

For further information check our SC Institutional Gallery listings or call the library at Contact: 803/777-8154 or at (www.sc.edu/library/).



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