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Tate acquires William Blake etchings

13th January 2010

Eight hand-coloured relief etchings by Romantic poet and artist William Blake have been acquired by the Tate after a fundraising drive.

Produced in the 1790s, the etchings are reproductions of the illustrations the poet used for his series of illuminated books and are finished in pen and ink with colouring created by layering tempera on watercolour.

The collection, which comprises six works from prophetic writing The First Book of Urizen, one from mythological poem The Book of Thel and one from prose piece The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, was bought from an anonymous seller for GBP 441,000.

Nicholas Serota, Tate director, said the gallery is 'delighted' that it has been able to secure the unique works for the nation.

'Blake has always been central to our historic collection of British art here at [the] Tate and these beautiful etchings will help us represent the amazing diversity of his work,' he explained.

The gallery raised GBP 200,000 from Tate members and GBP 141,000 through the Art Fund, with the remainder coming from support from Tate patrons and private donations.

Last year, an exhibition at Tate Britain allowed art lovers to view a selection of the surviving works from the only solo show Blake hosted in his lifetime.

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