Book Chapter

The ends of illustration: explanation, critique, and the political imagination in Blake's title-pages for Genesis

Peter Otto

Romanticism and Illustration | Cambridge University Press | Published : 2019


In the last year of his life, Blake was commissioned by John Linnell (1792-1882) to produce an illustrated copy of Genesis, the Bible’s book of beginnings. The result of his labours is extant on eleven unbound leaves, which include two frontispieces and nine pages of text accompanied by illustrations, all of which are unfinished. These pages re-narrate and re-envision the story told in the first chapters of Genesis (1:1–4: 15), from the creation of this world to the division of Adam and Eve from each other, their expulsion from Eden, and the murder of Abel by Cain, which together set the nightmare of fallen history in motion. The manuscript can be placed in at least three ways. First as the..

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University of Melbourne Researchers