William Blake

Thenot and Colinet

1821, reprinted 1977

In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
William Blake 1757–1827
Wood engraving on paper
Image: 61 × 83 mm
Presented by British Museum Publications Ltd 1977

Display caption

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.

Gallery label, December 2004

Does this text contain inaccurate information or language that you feel we should improve or change? We would like to hear from you.

Catalogue entry

T02115 [from] Illustrations to Thorton's Pastorals of Virgil: Restrikes 1821/1977 [T02115-T02131; complete]

T02115–31 /-.
Seventeen wood-engravings on Japanese Hosho paper, each sheet approx. 121×153 (4 3/4×6)
Presented by British Museum Publications Ltd through Iain Bain and David Chambers 1977
PROVENANCE Printed for the donors 1977
EXHIBITED Tate Gallery 1978 (287–303, repr.)
LITERATURE As for A00111-A00127

Blake's woodblocks for his illustrations to Ambrose Philip's ‘Imitation of Virgil's First Eclogue’ in Dr Thornton's Pastorals of Virgil...Adapted for Schools were acquired by the British Museum in 1939 (1939-14-1-2 to 18). In 1977 one hundred and fifty sets of the seventeen engravings, together with an additional fifty impressions of the larger frontispiece, were printed for the British Museum by Iain Bain and David Chambers. The efforts taken to produce the optimum results are described in their introduction to the publication that goes with the restrikes. Despite some damages and warping certain details and gradations of tone were revealed which had not been picked out either in the early printings or in those from the electrotypes.

T02115 Frontispiece: Thenot and Colinet

Wood-engraving 61×83 (2 7/16×3 1/4)

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

You might like

In the shop