William Blake - Romantic, English Poet, Painter and Printmaker

By: Annette Labedzki

William Blake - Romantic, English Poet, Painter and Printmaker

One of the most celebrated painters, poets, and printmakers of all times, William Blake was considered a nonconformist, owing to his out of box imagination and ingenious creativity. Famous more for his visionary poetry, the artist is credited with bringing forth the artistic style of 'Romanticism,' while holding on to 'Pre-Romanticism' as well. Born on November 28, 1757, in Golden Square, London, England, the artist hailed from a middle class family.

The multi-talented artist had exceptionally flavored maturity, since his early years. Initially taught by his mom at home, the artistically inclined Blake later enrolled for some art classes. Blake's early art works, portraying his spiritual temperament, were deeply influenced by the painters like Raphael, Michelangelo, Marten Heemskerk, and Albrecht Dürer. On August 4, 1772, Blake apprenticed to engraver, James Basire, for seven years. In 1774, the apprentice, William Blake, was appointed to paint the Gothic Church in Westminster Abbey. This work had a profoundly religious impact on the artist and hereafter, his paintings were substantiated with a strongly pious feel. He enrolled into the Royal Academy, Old Somerset House, near the Strand, for 1778-84 session.

In 1782, Blake married illiterate, Catherine Boucher. The artist educated her right from the basics of reading & writing to the highs of engraving. Trained Catherine would later help Blake with coloring & printing of his several poetic works, such as "Poetical Sketches (1783)" and "Visions of the Daughters of Albion (1793)," both propagating gender equality. At the age of 31, in 1788, Blake invented a technique, 'Relief Etching' or 'Illuminated Printing,' employing engraved copper plates, etched out with acid. He used the method to color his printed poems, books, and paintings, like "Songs of Innocence (1789)," "The Book of Thel (1789)," "The Marriage of Heaven and Hell (1790)," and "Songs of Experience (1794)," all depicting his resentment against corruption and injustice.

In 1800, Blake took up the job of illustrating the poet William Hayley's works, at Felpham, Sussex. Here he wrote the enormous, "Milton: A Poem (1804-10)." In 1804, the artist returned to London, and started writing his most renowned work, "Jerusalem (1804-1820)." During this time, he befriended an artist, John Linnell, who used 'Relief Etching' to help Blake illustrate his "Book of Job," encompassing the rebellion against authority and modern trends, weaved with spirituality.

In 1826, William Blake was commissioned one of his most monumental projects, the illustration of Dante's "Divine Comedy." Dante's works, begrudging materialism, corruption, and injustice, impressed Blake thoroughly. Dante's series continued to dominate William's line of works for the rest of his life. The artist even attempted to illustrate Dante's "Inferno."

William Blake died in penury on August 12, 1827, survived by Catherine, who had to work as a housekeeper for the rest of her life. Admirers, art historians, and critics will always honor the painter as an artistic mark of defiance against autocracy. He encapsulated creativity with his poetic quote, "to see a world in a grain of sand and a heaven in a wild flower, hold infinity in the palm of your hand and eternity in an hour."

About the Author:
Annette Labedzki received her BFA at the Emily Carr College of Art and Design in Vancouver, B.C. Canada. She has more than 25 years experience. She is the founder and developer of Labedzki.com. An online art gallery featuring her original art.
It is a great site for art collectors to buy original art. Please visit the website at https://www.labedzki-art.com/


William Blake Documentary



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