Large Paper Copy, with Eighty-Three Plates and Maps, of Which Sixteen are Engraved by BlakeCaptain J. G. Stedman. Narrative of a Five Years' Expedition Against the Revolted Negroes of Surinam, in Guiana, on the wild coast of South America; from the year 1772, to 1777: elucidating the history of that country, and describing its productions, viz. quadrupeds, birds, fishes, reptiles, trees, shrubs, fruits, & roots; with an account of the Indians of Guiana, & negroes of Guinea....illustrated with 80 elegant engravings from drawings made by the author. London: Printed for J. Johnson and J. Edwards, 1796.
First edition, among Blake's finest work as a book illustrator. The plate marks are only, and irregularly, visible in the large paper copies (clearly visible in this copy). Two quarto volumes. xviii, 407, [1, blank], [8, index, directions for placing the plates and errata]; iv, 404, [8, index, directions for placing the plates and errata] pages. Plates watermarked 1794. With 83 etched plates including frontispiece (first volume), both title pages with etched vignettes and 80 plates of which 16 were engraved by Blake and five are folding (maps and plates). All after Stedman.
Contemporary tree calf, expertly rebacked to style, smooth spines with gilt rules and devices, black morocco gilt lettering labels, red morocco gilt volume numbers.
"Many of the plates, it will be noticed, were engraved by [William] Blake, who had learnt his trade from Basire, to whom he was apprenticed for seven years from August 1772. As Keynes says in his William Blake's Engravings, 1950, 'From 1791 until 1800 Blake did much of his work as a journeyman engraver for the booksellers.' Stedman, an officer in the Scots Brigade in Holland, volunteered for service against the negroes in Dutch Guiana. While out there he to all intents married the subject of Number 9 [facing p. 95], Joanna, a Mulatto, and had a son by her, who became a midshipman in the British Navy, but died young. The author emerges as a most interesting and sympathetic character. As Lowndes rightly says the book is 'as entertaining as a romance.' It will be noticed that William Blake engraved thirteen plates, while three plates were engraved by Bartolozzi" (Abbey). Keynes eventually decided that Blake was responsible for sixteen of the plates.
"Both text and plates made a strong impression on reviewers. The Analytical Review, XXIV (Sept. 1796), said 'The numerous plates...are neatly engraved, and are, we have great reason to believe, faithful and correct delineations of objects described in the work.' The Critical Review (Jan. 1797) praised the engravings as being 'in a style of uncommon elegance'" (Bentley).
Abbey, Travel, 719. Bentley 499A. Cox II, p. 285. Cundall, West Indies, 1715. Ray England 2. Sabin 91075.
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