Butlin 2002, p. 71;
Bentley 2001, pp. 482-83, note 58.
1Butlin, cat. no. 137, recto, p. 52 and Butlin 2002, p. 71, note 4.
This design is another of the group of seven that were never engraved. Although the event is not specifically described in Blair's poem, the subject is clearly part of the general theme of loss. It mirrors but is opposite to The Widow Embracing Her Husband's Grave (fig. 6). In A Father and Two Children the missing family member is the wife and mother; in The Widow she is the only family member present. In A Father and Two Children, the scene takes place in a graveyard on a blusterly night with only the family present. In contrast, The Widow Embracing is a sunlit scene with an elegant couple in the background who respond to the widow's grief. Furthermore, the mourners in A Father and Two Children are clearly stricken but contained, while the widow knows no such restraint as she flings herself on her husband's grave.
A Father and Two Children is more loosely executed than any of the other watercolors offered here. While the faces are worked up in some detail, the surroundings are indicated by quick brush strokes, thereby leaving the trees and the lantern rather two dimensional. Whether Blake intended to work on it further is difficult to say, but the overall effect is to emphasize the harshness of the elements as the family kneels beside the mother's open grave.
As in the case of The Counseller, King, Warrior, Mother & Child (lot 13), this design derives from a much earlier drawing. The Burial Scene in the McGill University Library (Butlin 137, recto), which Butlin dates to the early 1780s,1 has all the major elements of the composition, though more roughly indicated.
Please call 1-800-555-5555 to order a print catalog for this sale.
Online Registration to Bid is Closed for this Sale. Would you like to watch the live sale?Watch Live Sale