The William Blake Archive is pleased to announce the publication of electronic editions of Visions of the Daughters of Albion, copy A (British Museum) and proof copy a (Library of Congress). Like all the illuminated books in the Archive, both the texts and images of these new publications are fully searchable and are supported by our Inote and ImageSizer applications.
Like copies C and J, previously published in the Archive, copy A was produced in Blake’s first printing session for Visions in 1793. Probably to lend variety to his stock of copies on hand, Blake used three ink colors in this first printing: yellow ochre (as in copy A), raw sienna (copy C), and green (copy J). All three copies exemplify his use of semi-transparent washes to color his illuminated books in the early 1790s. Like several other illuminated books in the British Museum collection, the leaves of copy A are mounted close to the image in windows cut in thick paper. The inner edges of these mounts appear in some of our reproductions.
Proof copy a is an unusual, and probably fragmentary, remnant of Blake’s typical proofing of his illuminated prints in black ink (which takes on a brownish hue when thinly printed). This group of just 6 proofs was printed in 1793; they are probably the earliest extant impressions of Visions of the Daughters of Albion. All but the frontispiece and title page have been trimmed within the platemarks to the designs only. Blake very probably printed the entire plates, to check the progress of his work, and a later owner was responsible for trimming off the texts. Yet, even if reduced after they left Blake’s hands, these impressions offer a glimpse into his etching and printing methods.
Morris Eaves, Robert N. Essick, and Joseph Viscomi, editors
Andrea Laue, technical editor
The William Blake Archive