William Blake

English, 1757-1827
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William Blake oil paintings
William Blake : Glad Day
No info
William Blake : Dante and Virgil at the Gates of Hell
Illustration to Dante's Inferno
William Blake : The Marriage of Heaven and Hell
1790-93, private collection
William Blake : The Great Red Dragon and the Woman Clothed with the Sun
1805-1810, watercolor, National Gallery of Art at Washington D.C.
William Blake : The Parable of the Wise and Foolish Virgins
1822, watercolor, Tate Gallery, London
William Blake : Satan Smiting Job with Boils
1826, watercolor, Tate Gallery, London
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Biography
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William Blake (28 November 1757 - 12 August 1827) was an English poet, painter, and printmaker. Largely unrecognised during his lifetime, Blake is now considered a seminal figure in the history of the poetry and visual arts of the Romantic Age. His prophetic poetry has been said to form "what is in proportion to its merits the least read body of poetry in the English language". His visual artistry led one contemporary art critic to proclaim him "far and away the greatest artist Britain has ever produced". In 2002, Blake was placed at number 38 in the BBC's poll of the 100 Greatest Britons. Although he lived in London his entire life except for three years spent in Felpham he produced a diverse and symbolically rich corpus, which embraced the imagination as "the body of God", or "Human existence itself".

William Blake was born on 28 November 1757 at 28 Broad Street (now Broadwick St.) in Soho, London. He was the third of seven children, two of whom died in infancy. Blake's father, James, was a hosier. 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 Wright Armitage Blake.

Considered mad by contemporaries for his idiosyncratic views, Blake is held in high regard by later critics for his expressiveness and creativity, and for the philosophical and mystical undercurrents within his work. His paintings and poetry have been characterised as part of the Romantic movement and "Pre-Romantic", for its large appearance in the 18th century. Reverent of the Bible but hostile to the Church of England – indeed, to all forms of organised religion – Blake was influenced by the ideals and ambitions of the French and American revolutions, though later he rejected many of these beliefs he maintained an amiable relationship with Thomas Paine, he was also influenced by thinkers such as Emanuel Swedenborg. Despite these known influences, the singularity of Blake's work makes him difficult to classify. The 19th-century scholar William Rossetti characterised him as a "glorious luminary," and "a man not forestalled by predecessors, nor to be classed with contemporaries, nor to be replaced by known or readily surmisable successors".



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