John Varley

Preliminary Sketch for Plate 3 of ‘Treatise on Zodiacal Physiognomy’

1828

View this artwork by appointment, at Tate Britain's Prints and Drawings Rooms

Artist
John Varley 1778–1842
Medium
Graphite on paper
Dimensions
Support: 115 x 186 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Presented by Martin Butlin CBE in memory of Hugo Schwab 1991
Reference
T06494

Display caption

This sketch includes instructions from Varley to the engraver, John Linnell, on how to improve his reproduction of Blake’s Head of a Ghost of a Flea: ‘if the pupil of the eye of the flea...is a little more touched it will be better but the mouth will be greatly benefitted if the lines & teeth are more clearly copied, the tongue of the flea is more defined & the teeth do not go so far back’. This attention to detail demonstrates the symbolic significance Varley attached to each aspect of the face and how seriously he took Blake’s work.

Gallery label, March 2011

You might like