William Blake is one of the most influential, but also one of the most perplexing, of all British artists. Probably best known for his verses of the hymn “Jerusalem” and his poem “The Tyger,” he produced an enormously varied range of visual work–including prints, illuminated books, drawings, and paintings–appealing to a more diverse audience than perhaps any other artist.
This beautifully illustrated volume, published to accompany the largest Blake exhibition ever mounted, closely examines Blake’s vision, personal mythology, political views, and highly idiosyncratic painting techniques. An analysis of Blake’s life-long interest in the Gothic, both as a source of his own distinctive style and as an ideal of spiritual and artistic integrity, leads into a study of his life during the 1790s, when his radical political interests and innovative printmaking techniques came together to form a totally new visionary art. This is followed by an investigation into the sources from which he developed his ideas, language, and images–including an explanation of the key characters that populated his imaginative universe. Finally, the culmination of Blake’s highly original vision, his major illuminated books, including Songs of Innocence, Songs of Experience, Europe, and Jerusalem, are unveiled. Throughout, a wealth of reproductions bring Blake’s vision to life.