william blake’s technology

This is really just a “Hey, isn’t this cool?” kind of post, and I guess I’ve had a lot of those lately. Take a look at Joseph Viscomi’s chapter on William Blake’s “Illuminated Printing” techniques.

ìIlluminated Printingî was first published in The Cambridge Companion to William Blake, edited by Morris Eaves, 2003. It is republished here by permission of Cambridge University Press. While the text remains the same, the electronic version has 95 illustrations versus 9 in the printed version. The illustrations demonstrate in detail the stages of both Blakeís relief etching (ìilluminated printingî) and conventional intaglio etching according to the six ìChambersî in the ìPrinting house in Hell,î from Blakeís The Marriage of Heaven and Hell. The comparison of these two methods of etching will help reveal what was borrowed, altered, invented, and radical in Blakeís new mode of graphic production. The illustrations, which are linked to enlargements that have detailed captions, supplement the text but also function autonomously as slide shows on the technical and aesthetic contexts in which illuminated printing was invented, and as tutorials in the production of engravings, etchings, and relief etchings.

Fascinating stuff. Without the Blake Archive, I would not be able to teach Blake the way that I do.

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5 thoughts on “william blake’s technology

  1. I think it is out of print now, but if you get the chance be sure to check out Blake and the Idea of the Book by Viscomi. It is remarkable scholarship.
    Viscomi spoke on our campus a couple of years ago, and he is a really nice guy too.

  2. I’ve read a substantial chunk of that book, Jeff, and I agree: it’s remarkable. It does appear to be in print.

  3. That Viscomi essay _is_ a gem, isn’t it? It’s also a great distillation of _Blake and the Idea of the Book_.
    We’ve just added _William Blake: The Painter at Work_ (2003) to our library. It does for Blake’s temperas, watercolors, and drawings what BIB did for the illuminated books.

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