Students discover lost Blake etchings in Manchester’s John Rylands Library


An exhibition next month at John Rylands Library in Manchester will present previously lost etchings by poet and artist William Blake. The librarians at John Rylands suspected their collection of over one million books included many commercial etchings by Blake. But the students discovered more than expected, under the guidance of Manchester University’s Blake specialist Colin Trodd. I understand that over 300 etchings were discovered in the collection.

John Rylands library Achivist Stella Halkyard said :

As well as being a creative artist, Blake was an engraver and produced a wide variety of work.

The students had some specialist training in identifying prints from David Morris at the Whitworth Art Gallery before hunting through the collection. They found out we actually had a huge number of commercial engravings by Blake.

During the 18th and 19th century, engraving was looked down on as an art form, and commercial engraving more so.

But Blake is a hugely influential figure whose work was ahead of his time and whose poems are taught in our classrooms.

It is incredibly rare to have so many engravings by Blake together in one place. It is an incredible array of subjects and really showcases his talent.”

So put a note in your diaries: Burning Bright’: William Blake and Art of the Book runs at the John Rylands Library from February 7 – June 23


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