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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.

This particular 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.


open book


Night The First, title-page

page 1

page 4

page 7

page 8

page 10

page 12

page 13

page 15

page 16

Night the Second, title-page

page 19

page 23

page 24

page 25

page 26

page 27

page 31

page 33

page 35

page 37

page 40

page 41

Night the Third, title-page

page 46

page 49

page 54

page 55

page 57

page 63

page 70

Night the Fourth, title-page

page 72

page 73

page 75

page 80

page 86

page 87

page 88

page 90

page 92

page 93

page 95


(c)1999 National Gallery of Victoria