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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.

March 2011