Sep 9, 2005

The Pastorals of Virgil, Eclogue I: The Blasted Tree

The Pastorals of Virgil, Eclogue I: The Blasted Tree


William Blake

(British, 1757–1827)

Wood engravings

Image: 3.4 x 7.3 cm (1 5/16 x 2 7/8 in.)

Gift of The Print Club of Cleveland 1934.145

Catalogue raisonné: Bindman 607; Binyon 142; Russell 30.6

State: Binyon II/II



In 1820, Blake was commissioned to illustrate a new edition of The Pastorals of Virgil, published as a school text, which included commentary by Dr. Robert John Thornton on the famous poem from the 1st century BC. Blake’s seventeen wood engravings became tremendously influential. Samuel Palmer wrote of these wood engravings: "They are visions of little dells, and nooks, and corners of Paradise; models of the exquisitest [sic] pitch of intense poetry. . . . There is in all such a mystic and dreamy glimmer as penetrates and kindles the inmost [sic] soul." Despite Palmer’s poetic description, Blake’s wood engravings were not images of an unchanging paradise. Instead, they record an ever-shifting and often ambiguous relationship between the artist and his environment. They describe a landscape of Blake’s imagination—a wellspring of dreams and artistic inspiration, yet simultaneously a land of doubts and shadows, sweet delusions and unformed hopes.

See also
PR - Woodcut
Type of artwork: 

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