Christ Trampling on Satan

$3,750.00 (as of February 19, 2018, 4:21 pm)

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(London: circa 1806-1808, but printed by Edward J. Shaw in circa 1903). Engraving, by Thomas Butts, after Blake. Laid paper. First and only state. Hand written in ink, upper right corner “Cent quatre vingt septieme 187”. Plate mark: 12 3/8 x 6 3/8 inches. Sheet size: 16 1/4 x 10 1/4 inches. A determined Christ walks over the vanquished Satan, This fascinating engraving, after a Blake drawing, depicts a muscular and single-minded Christ with a bow in one hand and arrow in the other walking on the beard and chest of Satan, who despite his lifeless eyes reaches for Christ’s bow. Blake’s Christ is more reminiscent of Hercules or Gilgamesh than the Christ known to us through church iconography and his Satan reminds us more of Zeus than Christianity’s Devil. Archibald Russell in The Engravings of William Blake (Houghton Mifflin, 1912) that this image illustrates a passage in Paradise Lost (Bk.VI, 763), but was an allegory for the triumph of imagination or creativity over reason.Thomas Butts, senior (1757-1845) and junior (1788-1862), were both given drawing and engraving lessons by Blake starting in March 1806. They produced a number of plates from Blake’s designs although his level of direct involvement can only be estimated. The present plate was sold by the Butts’ descendants at Sotheby’s, lot 20, 24 June, 1903. The plate was acquired shortly after the auction by Edward J. Shaw of Walsall. He apparently had printed a number of impressions by December 1903. These are the earliest recorded impressions of this plate (other than a single impression sold with the plate at the auction). The plate remained in Shaw’s possession until 1925 when it was sold at Sotheby’s (29 July, lot 158) to Mansfield. The New York dealer, E.Weyhe, bought a number of impressions (and possibly the plate itself) as they still had multiple copies for sale as late as 1965.

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