William Blake's Printed Paintings:
Methods, Origins, Meanings

Joseph Viscomi

Publicaton Date
May 2021
Standard Number
Yale University Press
256 pages, 270 x 216mm
180 color + b-w illus.

Among William Blake’s (1757–1827) most widely recognised and highly regarded works as an artist are twelve colour printed drawings, or monoprints, conceived and executed in 1795. This book investigates these masterworks, explaining Blake’s technique – one he essentially reinvented, unaware of seventeenth-century precursors – to show that these works are paintings and played a crucial role in Blake’s development as a painter. Using material and historical analyses, Joseph Viscomi argues that the monoprints were created as autonomous designs rather than as illustrations for Blake’s illuminated books with an intended viewing order. Enlivened with bountiful illustrations, the text approaches the works from the perspective of the studio and within the context of their time, not divorced from ideas expressed in Blake’s writings but not illustrative of or determined by those writings.

About the author

  • Joseph Viscomi is James G. Kenan Distinguished Professor of English Literature at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.