Abirpothi

India’s only daily art newspaper

The Extra-terrestrial Works of William Blake

NOVEMBER 28, ON THIS DAY

Commerce is so far from being beneficial to arts, or to empire, that it is destructive of both, as all their history shows, for the above reason of individual merit being its great hatred. Empires flourish till they become commercial, and then they are scattered abroad to the four winds.

William Blake

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William Blake was an English poet, painter, and printmaker who lived during the Romantic era. His paintings typically used Biblical imagery, Greek mythology, or literary allusions. He mostly used relief etching, intaglio engraving, tempera, and watercolour to create his works of art. Blake treasured the imagination above all else, declaring it to be the apex of human existence. He is noted for radical experimentation and a collection of work that is difficult to describe or categorise. The Great Red Dragon and the Woman Clothed in Sun, The Ancient of Days, and the illustrations for his collection of poetry in Songs of Innocence and Experience are some of William Blake\’s best-known works.

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William Blake was born on November 28, 1757 in London. He only briefly attended school to learn reading and writing before leaving at the age of ten. His mother Catherine Blake schooled him at home for the rest of his education. Although he was widely regarded as an English poet, William Blake\’s paintings were his most significant form of expression when he was a young man.  He enrolled to study at London’s prestigious Royal Academy of Art at the age of 21.  Blake found the classes at the Academy to be much less engaging, and he rapidly became tired of Sir Joshua Reynolds\’ traditional teaching methods. William Blake eventually left to pursue his own path since he felt that these lessons were restricting his creativity. Blake attempted to open a print shop in 1784 with his family\’s wealth, but the venture was a failure. Instead, Blake was able to support himself for the rest of his life by creating elaborate and skillfully constructed engravings and prints on commission for private customers.

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After his father passed away, he started working independently, creating and illuminating his own poems in addition to doing freelance writing for other well-known authors. He developed a brand-new engraving method called relief etching in which the text and accompanying images were illuminated on a copper plate using a range of acidic and non-acidic substances. Throughout his life, William Blake was known for experimenting with a wide range of mediums and methods. When William Blake painted or etched, he drew heavily on inspiration from various different sources. His compositions frequently use well-known Christian symbols from the Bible, Greek mythology, or well-known books; two examples are The Ancient of Days and Milton. He was also inspired by his own poetry, as evidenced by his illuminated book, Songs of Innocence and Experience. Many of Blake\’s paintings and etchings use thick colour layers that give them a dramatic, gloomy feel. Blake experimented with several media in his work, resulting in these sombre paintings. For instance, in The Bard from Gray, he employed a layer of chalk and glue under the pigment, which stained the picture; in The Body of Abel, he used a similar technique. He painted a dark, brown-toned work on wood using watercolours on a piece of wood that Adam and Eve discovered.

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Blake was also a supporter of women\’s liberty and rights, as evidenced by his depiction of women as enslaved by their vows in Visions of the Daughters of Albion. Many creative thinkers, including poets, musicians, authors, and artists, have been impacted by William Blake\’s persistent creativity and rebellious spirit.

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Sources:

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Blake
  2. https://www.theartstory.org/artist/blake-william/
  3. https://poets.org/poet/william-blake

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