I recently purchased the engraved trade-card of John Claude Nattes, (c 1765-1839), topographical draughtsman, drawing master, print dealer, and occasional print-maker, who lived in South Molton Street from c 1787 to some time after 1795. The card shows a monument with two hooded figures on top flanking a group of art-related objects including a palette and brushes, a pyramid behind; trees in the foreground to the left. The plinth of the monument is inscribed "Mr Nattes, 49 South Molton Strt.".
Wednesday, 23 August 2023
Thursday, 17 August 2023
I write in South Molton Street, what I both see and hearIn regions of Humanity, in Londons opening streets.
William Blake, Jerusalem (E 180)
In September 1803, after an absence of three years in the coastal village of Felpham in Sussex, William and Catherine Blake returned to London. Initially they lodged with William's brother and sister, James and Catherine Elizabeth Blake, at 28 Broad Street, later Broadwick Street, Carnaby Market. Less than a month later, William and Catherine moved into a two-room flat on the first floor of 17 South Molton Street, off Oxford Street. During their 17 years of residence there, the Blakes printed and coloured their most ambitious illuminated books.
The house was shared with their landlords, successively the tailor William Enoch (c 1803-4) and his family, and the staymaker Mark Martin (c 1805-21), his wife Eleanor and their family. There were presumably other lodgers on the upper floors.
Sunday, 5 June 2022
Thy Friendship oft has made my heart to ake
Do be my Enemy for Friendships sake.
Visitors to the Tate Britain William Blake exhibition of 11 September 2019—2 February 2020, were met by a sign reading
The art of William Blake containsstrong and sometimes challengingimagery, including some depictionsof violence and suffering.
Please ask a member of the staff ifyou would like more information.
I thought this a reasonable warning to any parent taking a child to the exhibition. But a handful of journalists reporting on the exhibition tried to make hay out of this sign, claiming that it was tantamount to censoring Blake, seemingly unaware of Blake’s Stedman engravings and the horrors they depict in such careful detail.
Wednesday, 26 January 2022
Just over a month ago, on 1st December 2021, MacDougall Arts, of St. James's Square, held one of their regular sales of Russian works of art. Included in the auction was a portrait of Catherine II, Empress of all the Russias, otherwise Catherine the Great, by Dmitry Levitsky (1735-1822), together with a letter from Catherine to Count Piotr Aleksandrovich Rumiantsev outlining her inoculation strategy against smallpox. (The two items together sold for £951,000, if that’s of any interest.) This sale was the impetus or trigger for a talk I gave to the Blake Society AGM (19 January 2022). The title I gave it : “Inoculation should be common Everywhere”, derives from this letter by Catherine the Great.
Sunday, 21 November 2021
Plate 1 of Milton presents a nude man, the spiritual form of the poet John Milton, against a background of smoke and flames. In copy A, the vortex of billowing smoke is clearly shown emerging from Milton’s left palm and, to a lesser extent, from his right wrist. (It is not so obvious in some later impressions; and is ignored by many commentators.) At the bottom is Milton’s motto from Paradise Lost: To Justify the Ways of God to Men.