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Catherine Blake (1762-1831), the artist's wife; Frederick Tatham (1805-1878); his sale, Sotheby's, London, 29 April 1862, part of Lot 164 (with 3 others, one of the same subject); Sir Frederick Turner Palgrave (1824-1897); E. Parsons; W. Graham Robertson (1866-1948), 1906; his sale, Christie's London, 22 July 1949, lot 17; with Schwartz; Dr. T. Edward and Tullah Hanley, Bradford (PA); gift to the M.H. de Young Memorial Museum, 1969.
Memorial gift from Dr. T. Edward and Tullah Hanley, Bradford, Pennsylvania
Carfax & Co. Galleries, London, 'Exhibition of Works by William Blake', 13 June-13 July 1906, no. 63B;
The Manchester Whitworth Institute, ‘Catalogue of a Loan Exhibition of Works by William Blake’, April 1914, no. 15;
London, Tate, ‘William Blake (1757-1827)’, August-September 1947, no. 77;
Bournemouth South Club (also Southampton and Brighton), ‘An Exhibition of Original Works by William Blake (1757-1827) from the Graham Robertson Collection’, 1949, no. 24;
Buffalo, 1960, no. 34;
New York, Wildenstein & Co., and Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge (MA), ‘The Dr. T. Edward and Tullah Hanley Collection’, 1961-1962, no. 35 (also traveling to Gallery of Modern Art, New York; Philadelphia Museum of Art; Columbus Gallery of Fine Arts, 1968, no. 114;
San Francisco, FAMSF – de Young, ‘The Dr. T. Edward and Tullah Hanley Memorial Collection’, 1970, no. 169 (cat. by F. Lanier Graham and Edwin Carter)
University Art Museum, Berkeley, ‘William Blake: Graphic Works’, 1974, no. 164;
San Francisco, FAMSF – Legion of Honor, ‘Masterworks from the Achenbach Foundation for Graphic Arts’, 1981;
San Francisco, FAMSF – Legion of Honor, ‘William Blake and His Followers’, 1982-1983;
San Francisco, FAMSF – Legion of Honor, ‘Master Drawings from the AFGA’, 3 Aug - 13 Oct 1985, no. 73 (entry by Joseph R. Goldyne);
San Francisco, FAMSF – Legion of Honor, ‘20 years of collecting: Director's Choice’, 7 March - 14 June 1987;
San Francisco, FAMSF – Legion of Honor, ‘18th and 19th Century English Figurative Prints and Drawings’, 18 June - 18 Sept 1988;
San Francisco, FAMSF – Legion of Honor, ‘Treasures from the Achenbach Foundation for Graphic Arts’, 11 Nov 1995 - 3 March 1996, no. 84.
The subject of this celebrated drawing by visionary British 18th century artist Blake is derived from The Book of Job (7:17-18): After losing his children and his possessions and the enduring an attack of boils, Job begs God for justification ("What is man that thou... shoulderst try him every moment?"). One of Blake's most impressive and highly finished early drawings, the Complaint of Job is most notable for its dramatic, flowing composition, achieved though curvilinear passages of light and line.