Little Phoebus, from Illustrations to the songs from William Blake's "Island in the Moon"

  • Charles Seliger, Little Phoebus, from Illustrations to the songs from William Blake's "Island in the Moon", 1945, ink, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Michael Rosenfeld, 1992.53.2

Exhibition Label
At age nineteen, Charles Seliger drew illustrations for songs from the unfinished satire, An Island in the Moon by William Blake (1757-1827), an English poet, painter, and printmaker.
Written around 1785, the manuscript combines classical Greek satire with a critique of one of the intellectual salons of the London bourgeoisie. Each of Seliger’s drawings depict one or more of the absurdly named characters from Blake’s fictional island, some of whom also represent friends and contemporaries of the author. Suction, the Epicurean, for example, is believed to correspond to Blake’s brother Robert, and Quid, the Cynic refers to Blake himself.
Blake’s song lyrics range from vulgar to menacing to humorous. While Old Corruption is considered an allegory for sin, the song for which Seliger drew O, I Say You Joe, Throw Us the Ball was the first recorded poem to focus on cricket, an English bat-and-ball sport.

Abstract Drawings, 2012

Title
Little Phoebus, from Illustrations to the songs from William Blake's "Island in the Moon"
Artists
Date
1945
On View
Not on view.
Dimensions
sheet: 14 x 11 in. (35.6 x 27.9 cm)
Credit Line

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Gift of Michael Rosenfeld

Mediums
Classifications
Keywords
  • Literature – Blake – Island in the Moon
  • Literature – character – Little Phoebus
  • Fantasy – monster
  • Figure
Object Number
1992.53.2
Palette
Linked Open Data
Linked Open Data URI