William Blake

Detailed Drawings for ‘A Figure Standing in a Gothic Apse’


Not on display

William Blake 1757–1827
Graphite on paper
Support: 155 × 205 mm
Purchased 1971

Display caption

This sketch, made in his friend John Varley’s sketchbook, is closely related to Blake’s drawing of the Empress Maud, shown nearby. Working quickly and freely in pencil, Blake developed his idea for a painting of a female saint that would decorate the gothic apse of a church. The saint is shown in a landscape, dressed in a loose gown and looking up, perhaps towards God. On the right–hand side of the drawing he has sketched some of the architectural details of the apse and the stained glass, making a note of the colours he plans to use.

Gallery label, October 2019

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Catalogue entry

T01335 [from] Drawings from the Small Blake-Varley Sketchbook c.1819 [T01334-T01335; complete]

The Tate Gallery owns three pages from the smaller Blake-Varley Sketchbook, first used by John Varley for landscape sketches and then by Blake for recording the visions he saw at Varley's house in 1819, the date inscribed on a number of the pages from the Sketchbook including T01334. The Sketchbook seems originally to have contained sixty-six leaves, sixteen of which are now lost. After a number of pages, including N05184, had been removed, the Sketchbook probably passed to Varley's friend the musician William Christian Selle, whose daughter married H. Buxton Forman, who definitely gave it to William Bell Scott in 1870. It remained at Penkhill Castle, the home of Scott's friend Miss Alice Boyd, until it was rediscovered there in 1967 by Mr M.D.E. Clayton-Stamm. It was subsequently broken up and reproduced in facsimile (Martin Butlin, The Blake-Varley Sketchbook of 1819, 1969; the Sketchbook is also fully described and catalogued, but not reproduced, in Butlin 1981, pp.495–506 no.692) and sold page by page at Christie's on 15 June 1971 (141–172, most of the Blakes repr.). On 21 March 1989 a second, larger Blake-Varley sketchbook was sold at Christie's (184, repr. in separate catalogue); this sketchbook had belonged to William Mulready, Varley's brother-in-law, and it was sold with his collection at Christie's 28–30 April 1864 (86).

T01335 Detailed Drawings for ‘A Figure Standing in a Gothic Apse’ 1819

T01335 / B 692 22
Pencil on paper 155×205 (6 1/8×8)
Inscribed by John Varley with colour notes, ‘pl’, ‘M’, ‘Lt. Blue’ and ‘crimson’ Purchased (Grant-in-Aid) 1971
PROVENANCE As for T01334
EXHIBITED As for T01334
LITERATURE As for T01334

This sheet was originally pages 21 and 22 of the Blake-Varley sketchbook; the other side, the original page 21, is blank. The drawings show details of the composition shown on the original facing page 23, the recto of T01334, q.v.

Published in:
Martin Butlin, William Blake 1757-1827, Tate Gallery Collections, V, London 1990


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