William Blake


William Blake was a poet, and painter. He was unrecognized during most of his lifetime but today is considered a seminal figure in the romantic age. His visual artistry caused a contemporary critic to proclaim that he was one of the greatest artists Britain had ever seen. It wasn't until 2002 the William Blake was placed among the 100 greatest Britons, a poll conducted by BBC. He lived in London for all of his life, with the exception of three years that he spent in a different city.

During that time he produced symbolically rich artwork and embraced the idea of the imagination as the body of God. During his time he was considered mad by his contemporaries because of his idiosyncrasies. Later, after he died, many people were in on his creativity and expressiveness. They were also shocked by his mystical undercurrents and philosophical undercurrents. The paintings and poetry this man produced was considered part of the Romantic Movement. However they seemed hostile to organize religion in spite of their reference to the Bible. William Blake was influenced by the ambitions of the American Revolution and the French Revolution. He rejected said political beliefs later in life but he maintained amiable relationships with such figures as Thomas Paine. His work was influenced by significant political activists.

He was born in 1757 as the third of seven children, two children of whom died in their infancy. His father worked with close and he was only able to attend school long enough to learn rudimentary reading and writing skills. He left school at the age of 10 and was educated at home by his mother. He was baptized and claims that the Bible had a profound influence on him early in life and it served as a significant source of inspiration until the day he died. He started engraving copies of antiquities that were purchased for him by his father. He actually preferred engraving copies to actually drawing. But within the drawings he was exposed to classical forms by such artists as Michelangelo. The prince and the bound books that he was able to enjoy as a childhood indicate that his father lived at a comfortable wealth. Even though he left school at the age of 10 his parents knew that he was headstrong and he should continue to study drawing. He read avidly on those subjects who he enjoyed the most during which time he explored poetry and took drawing classes.

He apprenticed to an engraver in England for seven years. At the end of his contract term he was a professional engraver at the age of 21. There are no records that survive stating any conflict or disagreement that took place during this period, it is noted that William Blake added the name of his boss to list of artistic adversaries but soon after crossed it out. His line engraving was old-fashioned at the time and it was speculated that the instruction he may have received was out dated. After two years he began to send copy images to Gothic churches throughout London. It was Westminster Abbey that helped him to truly cultivate his own artistic styles. At the time the Abby was decorated with funeral effigies, waxwork, and suits of armor. The faded brightness and the color of the designs influenced Blake immediately. He studied the Gothic form closely. He studied at the Royal Academy in 1779. The terms of his study did not require any payment but he was expected to supply personal materials for the duration of his six-year period.

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