William Blake Biography | Oil Paintings
11-28-1757 London, ENG - 8-12-1827 London, ENGBack to Artist IndexView Artists Paintings
William Blake visionary poet and painter, largely unrecognized during his lifetime, Blake is now considered a seminal figure in the history of the poetry and visual arts of the Romantic Age. Living in London for most of his life, Blake trained as a commercial engraver and briefly attended the Royal Academy Schools, although he soon felt stifled by the life classes: for him, the imagination was always far more important than the imitation of nature.
Stylistically, William Blake's art bore some of the hallmarks of Neoclassicism, particularly in its linear approach and its dramatic intent, but a classical sense of restraint was notably absent. His figures, meanwhile, owed much to the example of Michelangelo.
Blake's technique was highly inventive. He devised a system of 'illuminated paintings' which enabled him to produce lavish editions of his books of poetry and pioneered a form of tempera painting in place of oils.
William Blake's Visionary Paintings.
His subject matter was largely drawn from complex mythology outlined in his verses. This baffled many of his contemporaries who regarded him as an eccentric. William Blake did have his admirers, however, which included the group of young artists known as the Ancients. Blake's works are pervaded by symbolic and literary references to the Bible, Dante, Milton, and Shakespeare. Blake's mystic inspiration produced completely novel images without iconographic precedents.
Freedom of the imagination reigns in his canvases and illustrations, along with the unquestionable admiration for the purity of line and the beauty of classical figures. The desire to discover the hidden depths of man's being and enter into the realm of the unconscious stemmed from a rejection of Enlightenment ideas and an irresistible urge to go beyond reason.
William Blake had an enormous influence on the beat poets of the 1950s and the counterculture of the 1960s, frequently being cited by such seminal figures as beat poet Allen Ginsberg, songwriters Bob Dylan, Jim Morrison, Van Morrison, and English writer Aldous Huxley.
Art Movement History: Romanticism, Neoclassicism.
Artists Influencing William Blake: Michelangelo, Henry Fuseli, John Flaxman, Raphael.
Artist's Biography compiled by Albert L. Mansour at The World's Artist.