William Blake is a famous English artist of the Romantic era of the 18th-19th centuries, whose works excite the imagination, reflecting the chaos and contradiction of the world around him. William Blake’s paintings are not like other creations of that era: the painter did not follow fashion.
The artist used watercolors and paper instead of the usual oils and canvas. Blake reflected his own vision of the world in his works. He was not particularly interested in landscapes and portraits popular at that time. More often, the artist captured historical moments and scenes from the Bible. Contemporaries did not understand the work of William Blake. Some considered him insane, others ignored him altogether. Only a long time after the death of the painter, people began to look at his paintings differently, guessing their meaning.
William Blake was born on November 28, 1757 in London. His parents were Protestants, but the child was baptized in the Church of England. The boy went to school until he was ten, and then his mother taught him at home. Bible study greatly influenced Blake’s worldview and work.
William Blake has shown an interest in art since childhood. The father brought the boy drawings, which he copied. William had a bright temperament, and when his parents sent him to painting lessons, the child studied only what he liked. In 1775, the young man enrolled in the engraver James Besier. After studying for seven years, he learned all the intricacies of engraving. In 1779, the young man began his studies at the Royal Academy of Arts. Honing his craft, William received orders from collectors. Most of the works were done in watercolors, some in tempera.
William Blake claimed to have visions.
Even as a child, he saw either the head of God in the window, or a tree with angels in the field. Such visions were remembered by the boy, and later the artist expressed this in his work. Blake did not see anything strange in this, he was sure that every artist has the gift of vision, but loses this ability without development. In 1781, William met his soul mate, Catherine Sophia Boucher. They got married, and the husband taught his wife to paint. Love and harmony reigned in their house. Catherine experienced similar visions, and after the death of her husband, she truly lived only in those moments when he appeared to her to communicate.
It is difficult to imagine how a person sees the world when faced with such visions. For the artist, this was commonplace, but his contemporaries thought differently. The painter put his soul into his work, trying to convey what he sees and feels. Blake had few opportunities to show his paintings. He exhibited several works at the Royal Academy and the Watercolor Society, but the public did not appreciate them. One of the critics said that the work was “useless” and the author was “an unlucky madman.” After that, Blake became discouraged and lost almost all orders.
In the last decade of life, everything has changed for the better.
William became acquainted with artists who share his worldview. Thanks to this, he managed to get lucrative orders and sell many of his works.
William Blake left this world in 1827 on August 12th. Even in his last hours, the master worked, creating illustrations for Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy.