The Complaint, and the Consolation, or, Night Thoughts. By Edward Young, London, 1797
book with 43 etchings/engravings by Blake
engravings watercoloured c.1797-98 (NGV 51)
Felton Bequest, 1989 P183i-xliii-1989
National Gallery of Victoria
In 1795 the bookseller Richard Edwards commissioned Blake to illustrate the nine 'Nights' of
Edward Young's Night Thoughts, a popular meditative poem first published in 1742-5. Blake finished
over 500 watercolours but engraved only forty-three of them to illustrate the four 'Nights' which
comprise this edition. Twenty-four coloured copies of the Night Thoughts are believed to exist,
some, if not all of them hand-tinted after models prepared by Blake. The publication was not a
success, apparently due to the economic recession caused by the war with France.
volume once belonged to William à Beckett (1806-69), first Chief Justice of Victoria and an
ancestor of the painter, Arthur Boyd. Some time later it came into the possession of Alfred Felton
(1831-1904) this Gallery's greatest benefactor. It was subsequently owned by Robert Carl Sticht
(1856-1922) whose collection of drawings and prints was acquired by the Gallery in 1923 through
the Felton Bequest.