william blake


  • In later life Blake began to sell a great number of his works, particularly his Bible illustrations, to Thomas Butts, a patron who saw Blake more as a friend than a man whose
    work held artistic merit; this was typical of the opinions held of Blake throughout his life.

  • Development of views[edit] God blessing the seventh day, 1805 watercolour Because Blake’s later poetry contains a private mythology with complex symbolism, his late work has
    been less published than his earlier more accessible work.

  • Blake used illuminated printing for most of his well-known works, including Songs of Innocence and of Experience, The Book of Thel, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell and Jerusalem.

  • Also around this time (circa 1808), Blake gave vigorous expression of his views on art in an extensive series of polemical annotations to the Discourses of Sir Joshua Reynolds,
    denouncing the Royal Academy as a fraud and proclaiming, “To Generalize is to be an Idiot”.

  • Not all readers of Blake agree upon how much continuity exists between Blake’s earlier and later works.

  • [73] Another acquaintance, William Michael Rossetti, also burned works by Blake that he considered lacking in quality,[74] and John Linnell erased sexual imagery from a number
    of Blake’s drawings.

  • No record survives of any serious disagreement or conflict between the two during the period of Blake’s apprenticeship, but Peter Ackroyd’s biography notes that Blake later
    added Basire’s name to a list of artistic adversaries – and then crossed it out.

  • Psychoanalyst June Singer has written that Blake’s late work displayed a development of the ideas first introduced in his earlier works, namely, the humanitarian goal of achieving
    personal wholeness of body and spirit.

  • “[84] John Middleton Murry notes discontinuity between Marriage and the late works, in that while the early Blake focused on a “sheer negative opposition between Energy and
    Reason”, the later Blake emphasised the notions of self-sacrifice and forgiveness as the road to interior wholeness.

  • [4] While he lived in London his entire life, except for three years spent in Felpham,[5] he produced a diverse and symbolically rich collection of works, which embraced the
    imagination as “the body of God”[6] or “human existence itself”.

  • [44] Engravings[edit] Europe Supported by Africa and America engraving by William Blake Although Blake has become better known for his relief etching, his commercial work
    largely consisted of intaglio engraving, the standard process of engraving in the 18th century in which the artist incised an image into the copper plate, a complex and laborious process, with plates taking months or years to complete, but
    as Blake’s contemporary, John Boydell, realised, such engraving offered a “missing link with commerce”, enabling artists to connect with a mass audience and became an immensely important activity by the end of the 18th century.

  • [83] British Marxist historian E. P. Thompson’s last finished work, Witness Against the Beast: William Blake and the Moral Law (1993), claims to show how far he was inspired
    by dissident religious ideas rooted in the thinking of the most radical opponents of the monarchy during the English Civil War.

  • Some indicators bolster the impression that Blake’s illustrations in their totality would take issue with the text they accompany: In the margin of Homer Bearing the Sword
    and His Companions, Blake notes, “Every thing in Dantes Comedia shews That for Tyrannical Purposes he has made This World the Foundation of All & the Goddess Nature & not the Holy Ghost.”

  • The number of prints and bound books that James and Catherine were able to purchase for young William suggests that the Blakes enjoyed, at least for a time, a comfortable

  • His poetry consistently embodies an attitude of rebellion against the abuse of class power as documented in David Erdman’s major study Blake: Prophet Against Empire: A Poet’s
    Interpretation of the History of His Own Times (1954).

  • Even as he seemed to be near death, Blake’s central preoccupation was his feverish work on the illustrations to Dante’s Inferno; he is said to have spent one of the last shillings
    he possessed on a pencil to continue sketching.

  • [25] After two years, Basire sent his apprentice to copy images from the Gothic churches in London (perhaps to settle a quarrel between Blake and James Parker, his fellow

  • [21] The Bible was an early and profound influence on Blake, and remained a source of inspiration throughout his life.

  • [2] His visual artistry led 21st-century critic Jonathan Jones to proclaim him “far and away the greatest artist Britain has ever produced”.

  • The preface to this work includes a poem beginning “And did those feet in ancient time”, which became the words for the anthem “Jerusalem”.

  • A memorial to William Blake in St James’s Church, Piccadilly At the time of Blake’s death, he had sold fewer than 30 copies of Songs of Innocence and of Experience.

  • What he called his “prophetic works” were said by 20th-century critic Northrop Frye to form “what is in proportion to its merits the least read body of poetry in the English

  • David Bindman suggests that Blake’s antagonism towards Reynolds arose not so much from the president’s opinions (like Blake, Reynolds held history painting to be of greater
    value than landscape and portraiture), but rather “against his hypocrisy in not putting his ideals into practice.

  • [49] Later life Blake’s marriage to Catherine was close and devoted until his death.

  • [72] The exact number of destroyed manuscripts is unknown, but shortly before his death Blake told a friend he had written “twenty tragedies as long as Macbeth”, none of which

  • The final section of the expanded edition of her Blake study The Unholy Bible suggests the later works are the “Bible of Hell” promised in The Marriage of Heaven and Hell.

  • Most critical work has concentrated on Blake’s relief etching as a technique because it is the most innovative aspect of his art, but a 2009 study drew attention to Blake’s
    surviving plates, including those for the Book of Job: they demonstrate that he made frequent use of a technique known as “repoussage”, a means of obliterating mistakes by hammering them out by hitting the back of the plate.

  • Regarding Blake’s final poem, Jerusalem, she writes: “The promise of the divine in man, made in The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, is at last fulfilled.

  • [26] This close study of the Gothic (which he saw as the “living form”) left clear traces in his style.

  • [75] At the same time, some works not intended for publication were preserved by friends, such as his notebook and An Island in the Moon.

  • [24] It has been speculated that Blake’s instruction in this outmoded form may have been detrimental to his acquiring of work or recognition in later life.

  • [18] He attended school only long enough to learn reading and writing, leaving at the age of ten, and was otherwise educated at home by his mother Catherine Blake (née Wright).

  • [43] For years since 1965, the exact location of William Blake’s grave had been lost and forgotten.

  • The Song of Los is the third in a series of illuminated books painted by Blake and his wife, collectively known as the Continental Prophecies.

  • Aged 65, Blake began work on illustrations for the Book of Job, later admired by Ruskin, who compared Blake favourably to Rembrandt, and by Vaughan Williams, who based his
    ballet Job: A Masque for Dancing on a selection of the illustrations.

  • Over time, Blake came to detest Reynolds’ attitude towards art, especially his pursuit of “general truth” and “general beauty”.

  • It was in this cottage that Blake began Milton (the title page is dated 1804, but Blake continued to work on it until 1808).

  • “[47] Others have said it “expresses the climate of opinion in which the questions of color and slavery were, at that time, being considered, and which Blake’s writings reflect”.

  • [7] Although Blake was considered mad by contemporaries for his idiosyncratic views, he is held in high regard by later critics for his expressiveness and creativity, and
    for the philosophical and mystical undercurrents within his work.

  • “[67] George Richmond gives the following account of Blake’s death in a letter to Samuel Palmer: He died … in a most glorious manner.

  • [58] Return to London[edit] Sketch of Blake from circa 1804 by John Flaxman Blake returned to London in 1804 and began to write and illustrate Jerusalem (1804–20), his most
    ambitious work.

  • Blake’s death in 1827 cut short the enterprise, and only a handful of watercolours were completed, with only seven of the engravings arriving at proof form.

  • Knowing Blake was too eccentric to produce a popular work, Cromek promptly commissioned Blake’s friend Thomas Stothard to execute the concept.

  • The “Ancient of Days” is described in Chapter 7 of the Book of Daniel.

  • Erdman also notes Blake was deeply opposed to slavery and believes some of his poems, read primarily as championing “free love”, had their anti-slavery implications short-changed.

  • [66] At six that evening, after promising his wife that he would be with her always, Blake died.

  • [70] On the day of her death, in October 1831, she was as calm and cheerful as her husband, and called out to him “as if he were only in the next room, to say she was coming
    to him, and it would not be long now”.

  • [76][77] A Portuguese couple, Carol and Luís Garrido, rediscovered the exact burial location after 14 years of investigatory work, and the Blake Society organised a permanent
    memorial slab, which was unveiled at a public ceremony at the site on 12 August 2018.

  • The earlier work is primarily rebellious in character and can be seen as a protest against dogmatic religion especially notable in The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, in which
    the figure represented by the “Devil” is virtually a hero rebelling against an imposter authoritarian deity.

  • [20] When William was ten years old, his parents knew enough of his headstrong temperament that he was not sent to school but instead enrolled in drawing classes at Henry
    Pars’ drawing school in the Strand.

  • He said He was going to that Country he had all His life wished to see & expressed Himself Happy, hoping for Salvation through Jesus Christ – Just before he died His Countenance
    became fair.

  • The Vintage anthology of Blake edited by Patti Smith focuses heavily on the earlier work, as do many critical studies such as William Blake by D. G. Gillham.

  • Although they seem to have shared some views on sexual equality and the institution of marriage, no evidence is known that would prove that they had met.

  • She continued selling his illuminated works and paintings, but entertained no business transaction without first “consulting Mr.

  • (4:26, E98) ‘Skofeld’ wearing “mind forged manacles” in Jerusalem The Emanation of the Giant Albion Plate 51 Blake’s trouble with authority came to a head in August 1803,
    when he was involved in a physical altercation with a soldier, John Schofield.

  • [37] Johnson’s house was a meeting-place for some leading English intellectual dissidents of the time: theologian and scientist Joseph Priestley; philosopher Richard Price;
    artist John Henry Fuseli;[38] early feminist Mary Wollstonecraft; and English-American revolutionary Thomas Paine.

  • [65] Final years[edit] Headstone in Bunhill Fields, London, erected on Blake’s grave in 1927 and moved to its present location in 1964–65 Ledger stone on Blake’s grave, unveiled
    in 2018 Blake’s last years were spent at Fountain Court off the Strand (the property was demolished in the 1880s, when the Savoy Hotel was built).

  • [9] A committed Christian who was hostile to the Church of England (indeed, to almost all forms of organised religion), Blake was influenced by the ideals and ambitions of
    the French and American revolutions.

  • Blake started engraving copies of drawings of Greek antiquities purchased for him by his father, a practice that was preferred to actual drawing.

  • The group shared Blake’s rejection of modern trends and his belief in a spiritual and artistic New Age.

  • Largely unrecognised during his life, Blake is now considered a seminal figure in the history of the poetry and visual art of the Romantic Age.

  • [12] Despite these known influences, the singularity of Blake’s work makes him difficult to classify.

  • [30] Blake also disliked Reynolds’ apparent humility, which he held to be a form of hypocrisy.

  • On 4 August 1772, Blake was apprenticed to engraver James Basire of Great Queen Street, at the sum of £52.10, for a term of seven years.

  • The mastery of watercolour has reached an even higher level than before, and is used to extraordinary effect in differentiating the atmosphere of the three states of being
    in the poem.

  • The commission for Dante’s Divine Comedy came to Blake in 1826 through Linnell, with the aim of producing a series of engravings.

  • [64] Blake’s The Lovers’ Whirlwind illustrates Hell in Canto V of Dante’s Inferno Blake’s illustrations of the poem are not merely accompanying works, but rather seem to critically
    revise, or furnish commentary on, certain spiritual or moral aspects of the text.

  • Such techniques, typical of engraving work of the time, are very different from the much faster and fluid way of drawing on a plate that Blake employed for his relief etching,
    and indicates why the engravings took so long to complete.

  • [85] Religious views[edit] Blake’s Ancient of Days, 1794.

  • [60] Blake’s The Great Red Dragon and the Woman Clothed with Sun (1805) is one of a series of illustrations of Revelation 12.

  • Illustrations could appear alongside words in the manner of earlier illuminated manuscripts.

  • [1] On the day of his death (12 August 1827), Blake worked relentlessly on his Dante series.


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30. ^ E691. All quotations from Blake’s writings are
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31. ^ Bindman, D. “Blake as a Painter” in The Cambridge Companion to William Blake, ed. Morris Eaves. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003, p. 86.
32. ^ Ackroyd,
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33. ^ Gilchrist, A., The Life of William Blake, London, 1842, p. 30.
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“St. Mary’s Church Parish website”. St Mary’s Modern Stained Glass
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45. ^ Eaves, Morris. The
Counter Arts Conspiracy: Art and Industry in the Age of Blake. Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press, 1992. pp. 68–9.
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52. ^ Schuchard, MK, Why Mrs Blake Cried, Century, 2006, p. 3
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Peterfreund, Stuart, The Din of the City in Blake’s Prophetic Books, ELH – Volume 64, Number 1, Spring 1997, pp. 99–130
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60. ^ Peter Ackroyd, “Genius spurned: Blake’s doomed exhibition is back”,
The Times Saturday Review, 4 April 2009
61. ^ Lorenz Eitner, ed., Neoclassicism and Romanticism, 1750–1850: An Anthology of Sources and Documents (New York: Harper & Row/Icon Editions, 1989), p. 121.
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63. ^ “BLAKE, WILLIAM (1757–1827) & LINNELL, JOHN (1792–1882)”. English Heritage. Retrieved 5 August 2012.
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65. ^ Blake Records, p. 341
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68. ^ Grigson, Samuel Palmer, p. 38
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ground of Bunyan, Defoe and Blake earns protected status”. The Guardian. Retrieved 21 January 2015.
70. ^ Ackroyd, Blake, 390
71. ^ Blake Records, p. 410
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73. ^ Davis, p. 164
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K. Nurmi. A Blake Bibliography: Annotated Lists of Works, Studies, and Blakeana. University of Minnesota Press, 1964. pp.41-42.
75. ^ Marsha Keith Schuchard, Why Mrs Blake Cried: Swedenborg, Blake and the Sexual Basis of Spiritual Vision, pp. 1–20
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Historic England (21 February 2011). “Monument to William and Catherine Sophia Blake, Central Broadwalk (1396493)”. National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 11 August 2018.
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83. ^ Marshall, Peter (1 January 1994). William Blake: Visionary Anarchist (Revised ed.). Freedom Press. ISBN 0-900384-77-8.
84. ^
The Unholy Bible, June Singer, p. 229.
85. ^ William Blake, Murry, p. 168.
86. ^ Morris Eaves; Robert N. Essick; Joseph Viscomi (eds.). “Europe a Prophecy, copy D, object 1 (Bentley 1, Erdman i, Keynes i) “Europe a Prophecy””. William Blake Archive.
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87. ^ “a personal mythology parallel to the Old Testament and Greek mythology”; Bonnefoy, Yves. Roman and European Mythologies. 1992, p. 265.
88. ^ “Then comes the question of how he read some of his other essential
sources, Ovid’s Metamorphosis, for instance, or the Prose Edda, and how he related their symbolism to his own.”; Fry, Northrop. “Fearful Symmetry: A Study of William Blake”. 1947, p 11.
89. ^ Damon, Samuel Foster (1988). A Blake Dictionary (Revised
ed.). Brown University Press. p. 358. ISBN 0-87451-436-3.
90. ^ Makdisi, Saree. William Blake and the Impossible History of the 1790s. 2003, pp. 226–7.
91. ^ Altizer, Thomas J. J. The New Apocalypse: The Radical Christian Vision of William Blake.
2000, p. 18.
92. ^ Blake, Gerald Eades Bentley (1975). William Blake: The Critical Heritage. London: Routledge & K. Paul. p. 30. ISBN 0-7100-8234-7.
93. ^ Galvin, Rachel (2004). “William Blake: Visions and Verses”. Humanities. Vol. 25, no. 3.
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94. ^ Prov 8:27 (NRSV trans.), “When he established the heavens, I was there, when he drew a circle on the face of the deep …”
95. ^ Baker-Smith, Dominic. Between Dream and Nature: Essays on Utopia and
Dystopia. 1987, p. 163.
96. ^ Kaiser, Christopher B. Creational Theology and the History of Physical Science. 1997, p. 328.
97. ^ *Ackroyd, Peter (1995). Blake. London: Sinclair-Stevenson. p. 285. ISBN 1-85619-278-4.
98. ^ Essick, Robert N.
(1980). William Blake, Printmaker. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. p. 248. ISBN 9780691039541.
99. ^ Mellor, Anne (1974). Blake’s Human Form Divine. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. pp. 119–120. ISBN 0-520-02065-0 – via
Google Books. Blake imitated Flaxman’s austere, simple mode of pure outline engraving. Blake’s engravings for Cumberland’s _Thoughts on Outline_ clearly demonstrate Blake’s competency in and preference for this purely linear engraving style.
100. ^
G.E. Bentley, The Stranger in Paradise, “Drunk on Intellectual Vision” pp500, Yale University Press, 2001
101. ^ Erdman, David ed. The Complete Poetry and Prose of William Blake, Yale Anchor Press
102. ^ Tom Hayes, “William Blake’s AndrogYnous
EGO-Ideal,” ELH, 71(1), 141–165 (2004).
103. ^ “H-Women – H-Net”. www2.h-net.msu.edu. Archived from the original on 27 April 2014. Retrieved 18 November 2017.
104. ^ “William Blake”. Poetry Foundation. 17 November 2017. Retrieved 18 November 2017.
105. ^
Hamblen, Emily (1995). On the Minor Prophecies of William Blake. Kessinger Publishing. p. 10.Berger, Pierre (1915). William Blake: Poet and Mystic. E. P. Dutton & Company. p. 45.
106. ^ Swinburne p. 260
107. ^ Swinburne, p. 249.
108. ^ Sheila
Rowbotham’s Edward Carpenter: A Life of Liberty and Love, p. 135.
109. ^ Berger pp. 188–190
110. ^ Berger sees Blake’s views as most embodied in the Introduction to the collected version of Songs of Innocence and Experience.
111. ^ William
Blake: a study of his life and art work, by Irene Langridge, pp. 11, 131.
112. ^ Davis, p. 55.
113. ^ S. Foster Damon William Blake: His Philosophy and Symbols (1924), p. 105.
114. ^ Wright, p. 57.
115. ^ Berger, p. 142.
116. ^ Quoted by
Ankarsjö on p. 68 of Bring Me My Arrows of Desire and again in his William Blake and Gender
117. ^ William Blake and gender (2006) by Magnus Ankarsjö, p. 129.
118. ^ Ankarsjö, p. 64
119. ^ David Worrall, “Thel in Africa: William Blake and the
Post-colonial, Post-Swedenborgian Female Subject”, in The Reception of Blake in the Orient, eds. Steve Clark and Masashi Suzuki. London: Continuum, 2006, pp. 17–29.
120. ^ See intro to Chapter 4 of Jerusalem.
121. ^ Berger, pp. 112, 284
122. ^
Northrop Frye, Fearful Symmetry: A Study of William Blake, 1947, Princeton University Press
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125. ^ A note of caution, however: Peter Ackroyd recounts that on one occasion “his mother beat him for declaring that he had seen visions”,
suggesting that, though “he was beaten only once… it became a source of perpetual discontent”. Ackroyd, Peter (1995). Blake. London: Sinclair-Stevenson. p. 21-2, ISBN 1-85619-278-4.
126. ^ Jump up to:a b Langridge, Irene. William Blake: A Study
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vision on show”. The Guardian. UK. Retrieved 24 March 2008.
129. ^ Cousin, John William (1933). A Short Biographical Dictionary of English literature. Plain Label Books. p. 81. ISBN 978-1-60303-696-2.
130. ^ Hazard Adams. Blake and Yeats: The
Contrary Vision, Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1955.
131. ^ Shirley Dent and Jason Whittaker. Radical Blake: Influence and Afterlife from 1827. Houndmills: Palgrave, 2002.
132. ^ Jung and William Blake. [1]. Retrieved 6 March 2015.
133. ^
“Letter to Nanavutty, 11 Nov 1948, quoted by Hiles, David. Jung, William Blake and our answer to Job 2001″ (PDF). psy.dmu.ac.uk. De Montfort University. Archived from the original (PDF) on 9 May 2010. Retrieved 13 December 2009.
134. ^ Diana Hume
George. Blake and Freud. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1980.
135. ^ zoamorphosis.com, How much did Jim Morrison know about William Blake Retrieved 16 September 2011
136. ^ Neil Spencer, Into the Mystic, Visions of paradise to words of wisdom…
an homage to the written work of William Blake. The Guardian, October 2000, Retrieved 16 September 2011
137. ^ Robert Palmer,”The Pop Life” NY Times, March 1985, Retrieved 16 September 2011
138. ^ Di Salvo, Jackie (Spring 1988). “William Bolcom,
Songs of Innocence and Experience”. Blake/An Illustrated Quarterly. 21 (4): 152.
139. ^ Hoffman, Gary (January 2005). “BOLCOM: Songs of Innocence and of Experience”. Opera Today.
140. ^ Edward Larrissy. Blake and Modern Literature. Houndmills:
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Photo credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/clpo13/1353748522/’]