William Blake, ‘The Beggar's Opera, Act III’, 1788, Emanuel von Baeyer

Very fine and strong proof impression with margins around the plate. Platedirt and stipple marks are visible. Our impression is the very first proof state of two proofing states, before the final seven published states. Essick lists 9 proof impressions like ours and David Bindman (2013) made us aware of another held at UCL.

After William Hogarth’s 1731 painting, now at Tate Britain (N02437), illustrating John Gay's (1685 – 1732) The Beggar's Opera.
This is among the first paintings ever made of an English stage performance. It depicts a climactic scene from John Gay’s The Beggar’s Opera, first performed at the Lincoln’s Inn Theatre in 1728. Here the opera’s central character, a highwayman named Macheath, stands chained, under sentence of death, between his two lovers, the jailer’s daughter, Lucy Lockit, and, to the right, the lawyer’s daughter, Polly Peachum. They in turn plead for his life. At either side of the stage Hogarth has included members of the audience, notably at the far right the Duke of Bolton, real-life lover of the actress, Lavinia Fenton, who played the part of Polly Peachum. (Tate Britain, 2006)

Our example is, due to the strong inking, a very impressive sheet. Due to its large format it is in remarkable good condition in comparison to other copies.
The copy in the British Museum is trimmed and with part losses of the image. ( BM 1843,1209.5)

Essick, p.42 ff, cat. no. 20

About William Blake

William Blake is remembered as both a talented Romantic painter and a poet—he entered drawing school and began writing poetry around the same time in his adolescence. By age 20, Blake was thought to have written some of the finest lyrical poetry in the English language. He apprenticed for seven years with the engraver James Basire. In addition to engravings, Blake made drawings, watercolors, and small paintings in tempera. In 1788, he developed a process of etching that allowed him to combine an etching and text on the same printing plate, gaining unprecedented layout control of the printed page. Blake was deeply religious and believed that art could elevate the spirit. His most popular works were Biblical subjects, and illustrations inspired by Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy.

British, 1757-1827, London, United Kingdom, based in London, United Kingdom