Friday, August 23, 2019

WILLIAM BLAKE - Tate Britain

Tate Britain 

11 S e p t e m b e r 2 0 19 – 2 F e b r u a r y 2 0 2 0 

This autumn, Tate Britain will present the largest survey of work by William Blake (1757-1827) in the UK for a  generation. A visionary painter, printmaker and poet, Blake created some of the most iconic images in the history  of British art and has remained an inspiration to artists, musicians, writers and performers worldwide for over two  centuries. 

This ambitious exhibition will bring together over 300 remarkable and rarely seen works and rediscover  Blake as a visual artist for the 21st century. Tate Britain will reimagine the artist’s work as he intended it to be experienced. Blake’s art was a product of his  tumultuous times, with revolution, war and progressive politics acting as the crucible of his unique imagination,  yet he struggled to be understood and appreciated during his life. 

Now renowned as a poet, Blake also had grand  ambitions as a visual artist and envisioned vast frescos that were never realised. For the first time,  

The Spiritual  Form of Nelson Guiding Leviathan c.1805-9 


and The Spiritual Form of Pitt Guiding Behemoth c.1805 will be digitally  enlarged and projected onto the gallery wall on the huge scale that Blake imagined. The original artworks will be displayed nearby in a restaging of Blake’s ill-fated exhibition of 1809, the artist’s only significant attempt to create a  public reputation for himself as a painter. Tate will recreate the domestic room above his family hosiery shop in  which the show was held, allowing visitors to encounter the paintings exactly as people did in 1809. 

The exhibition will provide a vivid biographical framework in which to consider Blake’s life and work. There will be  a focus on London, the city in which he was born and lived for most of his life. The burgeoning metropolis was a  constant inspiration for the artist, offering an environment in which harsh realities and pure imagination were  woven together. His creative freedom was also dependent on the unwavering support of those closest to him, his  friends, family and patrons. Tate will highlight the vital presence of his wife Catherine who offered both practical  assistance and became an unacknowledged hand in the production of his engravings and illuminated books. 

The  exhibition will showcase a series of illustrations to

Pilgrim's Progress 1824-27:

 and a copy of the book The complaint,  and the consolation Night Thoughts 1797, now thought to be coloured by Catherine. 

Blake was a staunch defender of the fundamental role of art in society and the importance of artistic freedom.  Shaped by his personal struggles in a period of political terror and oppression, his technical innovation, and his  political commitment, these beliefs have inspired the generations that followed and remain pertinent today. 

The Ancient of Days, by William Blake

William Blake (1757-1827)

'Europe' Plate i: Frontispiece, 'The Ancient of Days'


Etching with ink and watercolour on paper

232 x 120mm

The Whitworth, The University of Manchester

Image result for William Blake (1757-1827)  Catherine Blake
William Blake (1757-1827)

Catherine Blake


Graphite on paper

286 x 221 mm

Tate. Bequeathed by Miss Alice G.E. Carthew 194

William Blake (1757-1827)

Albion Rose

c. 1793

Colour engraving

250 x 211 mm

Courtesy of the Huntington Art Collections

Image result for William Blake (1757-1827)  Capaneus the Blasphemer
William Blake (1757-1827)

Capaneus the Blasphemer


Pen and ink and watercolour over pencil and black

chalk, with sponging and scratching out

374 x 527 mm

National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne

William Blake (1757-1827)

The Ghost of a Flea


Graphite on paper

200 x 153 mm

Private Collection

Print made by William Blake, 1757–1827, British, Jerusalem, Plate 28 Proof Impression, ca. 1820, Relief etching with pen and black ink and watercolor on medium, smooth wove paper, Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection

William Blake (1757-1827)

Jerusalem, plate 28, proof impression, top design



Relief etching with pen and black ink and

watercolour on medium, smooth wove paper

111 x 159 mm

Yale Center for British Art (New Haven, USA)

William Blake, Newton, 1795–c.1805, color print, ink and watercolour on paper, Tate

William Blake (1757-1827)



Colour print, ink and watercolour on paper

425 x 539 m


Tate  Britain’s exhibition will open with Albion Rose c.1793, an exuberant visualisation of the mythical founding of Britain,  created in contrast to the commercialisation, austerity and crass populism of the times. 

A section of the exhibition  will also be dedicated to his illuminated books such as Songs of Innocence and of Experience 1794, his central  achievement as a radical poet. 

Additional highlights will include a selection of works from the Royal Collection and some of his best-known  paintings including Newton 1795-c.1805 and Ghost of a Flea c.1819-20. This intricate work was inspired by a séance- induced vision and will be shown alongside a rarely seen preliminary sketch. The exhibition will close with The  Ancient of Days 1827, a frontispiece for an edition of Europe: A Prophecy , completed only days before the artist’s  death. 

William Blake will be curated by Martin Myrone, Lead Curator pre-1800 British Art, and Amy Concannon Assistant  Curator, British Art 1790-1850. 

The exhibition will be accompanied by a catalogue from Tate Publishing.