Arion Lyre

69. William Blake, portfolio of thirteen drawings for Paradise Lost

A portfolio of thirteen facsimiles of watercolor drawings by William Blake (1757-1827) depicting incidents in Paradise Lost, reproduced for the first time at full scale from the originals in the Henry E. Huntington Library and Art Gallery, San Marino, California, with descriptions and commentaries by Robert N. Essick and John T. Shawcross, 2004. Issued as a supplement to the Arion Press edition of Paradise Lost by John Milton, the poem in twelve books, edited and with a note on the text by John T. Shawcross, introduction by Helen Vendler, 2002.

These prints are exacting replicas of important works of art, suitable for exhibition by institutions or private display. The portfolio alone will be sold to subscribers and others who already own the book. Books from the edition are still available and will be sold with portfolios, as sets only.

William Blake drawing

In 1807, Joseph Thomas commissioned from Blake a series of twelve drawings as illustrations of Paradise Lost; however, these were not bound into a book, nor were engravings made from them. This group was dispersed after 1885. Between 1911 and 1914 the drawings were purchased and reunited by the collector Henry E. Huntington.

Another much larger Blake drawing on a Paradise Lost theme was acquired by Huntington in 1916. It was probably executed in 1806 and has the same title as Plate 2 in the 1807 series, "Satan, Sin, and Death: Satan Comes to the Gates of Hell". Blake incorporated this drawing into a second series of Paradise Lost illustration commissioned by Thomas Butts in 1808. All thirteen drawings from the Huntington Library and Art Gallery are reproduced here, with its kind permission.

 William Blake portfolio

The title page, colophon and limitation, list of plates, introduction, and interleaving sheets are printed on light gray paper. Leaves between the drawings identify the following image and provide commentary on the iconography of the design and its relationship to the text, with citations and relevant excerpts from the poem.

Descriptions and interpretations of the drawings were written by Robert N. Essick, an internationally recognized expert on Blake. Additional material relating to Paradise Lost was written by John T. Shawcross, an eminent Milton scholar at the University of Kentucky.

Utmost care has been taken to ensure fidelity to the originals, using advanced printing technology. Color proofing and editioning of the full scale, continuous-tone color reproductions have been done at Arion Press with an inkjet printer especially developed for large-scale, high-resolution work. The paper is Somerset Photo Enhanced, a cotton-fiber mouldmade sheet from England. The sheet size is 22 by 17 inches. The smaller images range between 9-1/4 and 10-1/8 inches vertical by 8 to 8-1/8 inches horizontal. The larger image is 19-1/2 by 15-7/8 inches. The plates are imprinted with full identifying information.

The Arion edition of Paradise Lost is printed from a new scholarly text prepared by Professor Shawcross, whose rationale for modifications is appended in his "Note on the Text". Helen Vendler, the literary critic and University Professor at Harvard, has written an introductory essay, providing fresh perspectives on Milton's greatest work.

The page format of the book is 10 by 6-7/8 inches. The type is Baskerville, in Monotype and hand composition, with Goudy Text, a black-letter type, set by hand, for display. The paper is mouldmade Zerkall, ivory wove. The volume consists of 432 pages. The binding is full black linen over boards, round back, headbands, in slipcase covered with the same cloth, with purple leather labels stamped in genuine gold. The portfolio is covered in matching black linen.


Paradise Lost is the sixty-fourth publication of Arion Press. The book edition is limited to 400 numbered copies and 26 lettered copies. The book is priced at $1,200. The portfolio is the sixty-ninth publication of Arion Press and will not exceed the limitation of the book. It is priced at $1,300 and sold only with the book. The combined price of the book and portfolio is $2,500. Available

Order securely online now: Reserve now and pay offline:
Reserve your copy

Go to title: 68. Tartuffe     70. The Age of Innocence

Search Arion Press

Artist, Author, Title, or Keyword

Edition: The portfolio is sold only with publication no. 64, Paradise Lost by John Milton. The book is limited to an edition of 400 numbered copies for sale, and the portfolio edition is not to exceed the limitation of the book. Price for the book and portfolio set: $2,500.

Order the book and portfolio securely online now:

Reserve now and pay offline:

Reserve your copy

Blake 1 Blake 7 Blake 10 Blake 12

View gallery of images.