William Blake
Thenot and Colinet 1821, reprinted 1977

Artwork details

William Blake 1757–1827
Date 1821, reprinted 1977
Medium Wood engraving on paper
Dimensions Image: 61 x 83 mm
Acquisition Presented by British Museum Publications Ltd 1977
View this artwork by appointment, at Tate Britain's Prints and Drawings Rooms

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In 1819 Blake was commissioned to illustrate an ‘Imitation’ by Ambrose Philips of a pastoral poem by the Latin poet Virgil, called the First Eclogue. Philips’s reworking was meant to inspire schoolboy poets to emulate the ancient poets. Virgil’s two farmers, the elderly, happy Tityrus and the young, unhappy Meliboeus, become Thenot and Colinet in Philips’s ‘Imitation’. Blake shows Thenot with a beard.

Samuel Palmer described Blake’s wood engravings as ‘ visions of ...corners of Paradise; models of the exquisitest pitch of intense poetry’. The pastoral landscape complements the imagery of Jerusalem.

December 2004

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