Join 3,375 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


William Blake's Grave.
March 17, 2006 10:24 AM   Subscribe

William Blake's Grave. Museums and galleries only have a few weeks left to save William Blake’s long-lost watercolour illustrations accompanying Robert Blair’s poem “The Grave”, before they are dispersed at auction in New York on 2 May.
posted by matteo (25 comments total)

 
From the "long-lost" link:
Sotheby's said that the watercolours are to be auctioned as separate lots in New York on May 2 when they are expected to fetch between £6.8 million and £10 million.

It was also revealed yesterday that the illustrations are owned not by a foreign private collector as originally thought, but by an investment fund.

"When you split these things up it is an affront to everyone who loves Blake," said Tim Heath, the chairman of the Blake Society, which studies the visionary artist who died in 1827.

"It is such a pity because so much of Blake's work has been divided up and lost for commercial reasons. The value is so much greater if they are sold individually."
posted by matteo at 10:26 AM on March 17, 2006


for the curious, Blake's actual grave
posted by matteo at 10:28 AM on March 17, 2006


Annie: "The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom" - William Blake
Crash: William Blake?
Annie: William Blake!
Crash: What do you mean, William Blake?
Annie: I mean William Blake!
Crash: You know, talking to you is like a Martian having a conversation with a fungo.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 10:39 AM on March 17, 2006


"When you split these things up it is an affront to everyone who loves Blake"

So the value of the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. I buy this.

"It is such a pity because so much of Blake's work has been divided up and lost for commercial reasons. The value is so much greater if they are sold individually."

But then he seems to contradict himself by saying that the sum of the parts is greater than the value of the whole.

Can the value of works of art such as these to an investor really be that much different than the perceived of the work to the art community as a whole? I mean it's all perceived value, innit?
posted by three blind mice at 11:04 AM on March 17, 2006


I think he means that in auction, it's probably likely that a greater total amount can be raised by auctioning each piece separately. However the worth of the portfolio as a whole is immeasurably greater than bits and pieces - the series is a single work, after all.

The cost is greater. The value is diminished. People like that probably don't get the distinction.

I'm sorry I missed it on display at Sotheby's. That's what I get for not paying attention. The last time I was at Tate Britain, they weren't doing the Blake collection proud, exactly, but this would be a terrible loss. I can't exactly explain why I find it so offensive - I realise that it's probably just sentimentality. Don't mind me.
posted by Grangousier at 11:12 AM on March 17, 2006


But then he seems to contradict himself

no he doesn't. "The Grave" as a whole has a higher artistic, historical, etc value.
if you split it and sell the pieces, it's more financially valuable, uie you can sell it at a higher price.

see, it's like this: you're probably more financially valuable, if one cuts you open, puts your organs on ice, and then sells them to be transplanted.

but I'm sure your family and loved ones consider you more valuable alive and in one piece, for sentimental reasons, even if they could probably make more money off of your organs
posted by matteo at 11:23 AM on March 17, 2006


People like that probably don't get the distinction.

C'mon Grangousier. Stop looking down your nose. I'm thinking that investors have to give propers to the opinions of the arts community and that the difference between what you call "cost" and "value" cannot be so immense. What do investors base their valuations on if not at least, in part, the opinion of the arts community?
posted by three blind mice at 11:27 AM on March 17, 2006


no, it's the difference between selling 19 Blakes and selling 1, however bigger and more complex and more historically valuable, Blake

the watercolors tell a story. by splitting them up, they don't anymore.
posted by matteo at 11:30 AM on March 17, 2006


but I'm sure your family and loved ones consider you more valuable alive and in one piece, for sentimental reasons, even if they could probably make more money off of your organs

If my family and loved ones were able to bid then they would set the price. And if some art collector considers the Blake collection more valuable as a whole, than in parts, then they will set the price.
posted by three blind mice at 11:31 AM on March 17, 2006


the watercolors tell a story. by splitting them up, they don't anymore.

I'm totally down with that matteo. What is harder for me to accept is that people who invest with their euros have less appreciation for the value of art than a person who is willing to offer nothing more than his or her opinion.
posted by three blind mice at 11:34 AM on March 17, 2006


There's also the question of cost... maybe your family and loved ones would't be able to afford your truw, intact worth? Maybe 19 separate rich folk could afford half a million each, but it's a lot more difficult to find a single person who can afford 10 million all on her lonesome.

I mean, I know I can't...
posted by Squid Voltaire at 11:45 AM on March 17, 2006


*true
posted by Squid Voltaire at 11:46 AM on March 17, 2006


I wonder if the Huntingon Library is going to try and pick these up. That would be the logical and best place for them (speaking as a huge Blake fan).

Thanks matteo!
posted by bardic at 11:53 AM on March 17, 2006


Let's all sing "Jerusalem." It's St. Patrick's Day, after all.
posted by Mayor Curley at 11:54 AM on March 17, 2006


If the watercolors are separated, it will be a great Los for Blake fans everywhere...
posted by uosuaq at 12:06 PM on March 17, 2006


Blake fans everywhere...
posted by matteo at 12:07 PM on March 17, 2006


If some high resolution scans were to find their way online before the breakup, I wouldn't mind a diaspora. I don't need a physical presence to touch the man.

Anybody else as horny as I am for this book (based on this article) to be released?
posted by If I Had An Anus at 12:40 PM on March 17, 2006


three blind mice: If my family and loved ones were able to bid then they would set the price.

Only if they actually had the money to spend, or could raise it. Last time I checked, there are limits to the amount of cash a person can raise.

Looks like your three mice will be split up to be sold to individual snake owners soon....
posted by JHarris at 12:44 PM on March 17, 2006


As convenient for me as it would be for the Huntington to acquire the watercolors, I think it's a shame that the UK couldn't raise the funds to retain them. "Only one British artist would make it on to a list of the world's all-time greatest", Jonathan Jones wrote last year, and it sure as hell isn't Gainsborough.
posted by bcveen at 12:55 PM on March 17, 2006


Turner?
posted by matteo at 12:58 PM on March 17, 2006


Damien Hirst?
posted by bardic at 1:02 PM on March 17, 2006


Turner's not bad, but given a choice between him and the best Continental artists, I'm not sure he'd stand much of a chance. As for Hirst, I think Jones was referring to historical art figures, not contemporary art, but time will tell, I suppose ...
posted by bcveen at 1:16 PM on March 17, 2006


I was joking. Maybe.
posted by bardic at 1:19 PM on March 17, 2006


this lot was found in 2001 in Caledonia Books, a small Glasgow bookshop on the Great Western Road. It goes down as one of the greatest bookshop finds ever and precipitated a legal battle between the owner and the buyers. In the end a split of the profits was agreed. The first link has more info.
posted by johnny novak at 12:00 AM on March 18, 2006


I've heard that the Huntington does not have much in the way of a cash endowment--ol' Henry didn't anticipate the costs of keeping his home/museum running into the next century. Few institutions could afford the asking price for the full suite, unfortunately. But maybe if the Friends of the Library had a really special cactus and muffin sale...?
posted by Scram at 1:34 AM on March 19, 2006


« Older Upset that the NYC Department of Health has ordere...  |  Spider-Man in Arabic.... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments