Pen and watercolor, approximately 5 x 7 inches. The Tate Gallery, London.
This picture is displayed on the Tate Gallery's website. Go first to the Tate's homepage. At the top of the column on the left-hand side of the page you will see "Collections" as the first item. When you open this page, you will see on the right-hand side of the page a column where the fourth item says "Search collections." When you open that page, you will find the search engine; simply enter the names of the artist and the painting. If you click on the artist's name, you will see all the works by that particular artist at the Tate Gallery. If you click on the name of the painting, you will be taken to the image. Most of these images can be enlarged by clicking on them. If the picture has a display caption, be sure to read it; the notes will supplement what I have to say about the illustrations. Pages will open in separate windows, so close them to return to Shakespeare Illustrated. The Gallery's site is nicely constructed and easy to navigate; the Tate kindly allows us to link to its pages and to see the works in its magnificent collections.
We never actually see Lear and Cordelia in prison in Shakespeare's King Lear, but a scene like this appears in Nahum Tate's adaptation of the play, and Blake might have seen a performance in this, the only version staged in the eighteenth century. However, Martin Butlin thinks a more likely source is John Milton's History of Britain, where Lear is the last of the descendants of Brutus and the first King of England, thus making this early work by Blake part of a series of pictures he planned to call The History of England, a small book of Engravings (31).