A Note on the Detail

The sweep with his bag of soot (which also served as bedding for the "climbing boys") is regarding us from the plate. Is it a device to draw us into the frame? Or is it a defamiliarizing effect, emphasizing the viewer's comfort, who turns the leaves of Blake's book (or clicks along impulsively), while the boots steam dry by the hearth's fender and the graupel ticks against the windowpane?

Notice the blackened window in the background, and, as in so many of Blake's relief etchings, the closed door that occupies the foreground. Notice, too, how the y of "misery" trails off into the sooty cloud, fusing text and illustration.

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