Tate Britain : William Blake Exhibition, on until 2 February 2020

The Ancient of Days 1827

Just by way of a change from house portraits, which can become monotonous, not for the painter, as each painting is a trip into the unknown, but for the reader of this blog

There is a wonderful exhibition of William Blake’s work at Tate Britain at the moment which runs until 2nd February next year. The painting above, possibly one of his most well known, was on display, and I took this photograph from the hip, whilst dodging other people who were trying to do the same. You were allowed to photograph, provided you didn’t use flash, but I still felt guilty nonetheless

I knew something about Blake, most of us do, but I still learned a lot. I think I will have to go back again, and do the last two rooms again. There was so much detailed stuff, prints, letters etc that the eyes become very tired. Not just his drawings but also his writings were on display. I managed to miss his manuscript of “Tiger, tiger burning bright” which I was cross with myself about.

He was a London lad, growing up in Soho. he enrolled at the Royal Academy, but like others before him, reacted against its rigid teaching. He was a visionary who shared the ideals of medieval Gothic artists

I had never realised that as a print maker he was way ahead of his time. His innovations allowed him to print in colour, and combine texts and images, a technique which enabled him to create a succession of visionary books. In them, he engaged with the most pressing questions of the day, the slave trade, sexual freedom and revolution.

His radical sentiments could have got him arrested, if only the authorities could have understood his obscure message

Through changing fortunes, he realised a burst of creativity near the end of his life, with such great works as illustrating Dante’s Divine Comedy. I found his vision of Purgatory, somewhat uplifting and comforting. Whether one believes in the concept or not,( and even some catholics, myself included, tend to kick this belief into the long grass), then Blake’s illustrations are helpful. I shall probably attract criticism for that remark

See the exhibition if you can

4 thoughts on “Tate Britain : William Blake Exhibition, on until 2 February 2020

    • Certainly he wrote Jerusalem, Farzana, a great favourite at school, as I remember.
      The paintings you mention I don’t remember, but there was loads of stuff there, too much for one visit, so I may have missed them


      • I came to know about Red Dragon (the painting) from a renowned novel of the same name written by Thomas Harris. Even a movie was made on it, where Ralph Fiennes and Anthony Hopkins stars. You could Google it and see how the painting looks like; I’d say it was pretty advanced for its time, being drawn in the Romantic Period and somehow inspired by Chinese mythology.

        Jerusalem, I read, many consider as England’s own National Anthem. Even you told me so, once. I know the music and can hum it, although I doubt anyone listening to me here would ever understand what I’m humming.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Yes Jerusalem is very popular . I once knew all the words, as we sang it countless times at school. It would be a good choice for a national anthem, rather like Rule Britannia, both popular for last night of the promenade Concerts. Very patriotic, some would say jingoistic even. I’m singing it now
        I will Google Red Dragon and see

        Liked by 1 person

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