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
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
Little Phoebus, from Illustrations to the songs from William Blake's "Island in the Moon"
- On View
- Not on view.
sheet: 14 x 11 in. (35.6 x 27.9 cm)
- Credit Line
Smithsonian American Art Museum
Gift of Michael Rosenfeld
- Literature – Blake – Island in the Moon
- Literature – character – Little Phoebus
- Fantasy – monster
- Object Number
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