Illustrations of The Book of Job
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Blake's pictorial engagements with The Book of Job extended over many decades. His first efforts were a small group of wash drawings of the mid-1780s showing Job in his misery with his wife and three friends (Butlin 162-164). Another version of this subject appears among Blake's emblem series he sketched in his Notebook (Butlin 201. 20), but the composition appearing in the wash drawings culminated in the large intaglio etching/engraving, "Job" (Essick V) which Blake listed in his advertisement To the Public of 10 October 1793. This print may have stimulated Blake's chief patron, Thomas Butts, to commission a tempera painting, Job and His Daughters(Butlin 394) c. 1799-1800 and, about six years later, a series of nineteen water colors illustrating the story of Job (Butlin 550, the so-called "Butts Set"). In 1821, Blake and his new patron John Linnell borrowed the water colors from Butts. Linnell traced the series and Blake colored them (Butlin 551, the so-called "Linnell Set"). Blake also added two more compositions to this later group and added versions of these same compositions to the earlier group, so that both sets now have twenty-one designs. The Linnell set led directly to his commissioning engravings. These began as a series of reduced sketches executed in 1823 (Butlin 557); the engravings themselves, with a title page added, were not finished and published until 1826.