Blake, William

Portrait
Born: Nov 28, 1757 AD
Died: 1827 AD, at 69 years of age.

Nationality: English
Categories: Painters, Poets


1757 - Born on the 28th of November at 28 Broad Street, Golden Square, London. His father, James Blake, kept a hosier's shop in Broad Street, Golden Square; and from the scanty education which the young artist received, it may be judged that the circumstances of the family were not very prosperous.

1767 - He wanted to be an artist and, at age 10, started to attend the drawing school of Henry Pars in the Strand. He educated himself by wide reading and the study of engravings from paintings by the great Renaissance masters.

1772 - He was apprenticed to an engraver, James Basire, who sent him to make drawings of the sculptures in Westminster Abbey, and thus awakened his interest in Gothic art.

1779 - Blake entered the Royal Academy as an engraving student upon completion of his apprenticeship.

1980 - He was one of a group of progressive-minded people that met at the house of Blake's employer, the Radical bookseller Joseph Johnson.

1782 - Blake married a poor, illiterate girl, Catherine Boucher, who was to make a perfect companion for him on August 18th.

1787 - Wrote the fragment of a prose fantasy called "An Island in the Moon", in which members of this group are satirized.

1784 - Started a print shop in London and took his younger brother Robert to live with him as assistant and pupil after his father's death.

1788 - Engraved the first books in which Blake made use of his new printing method were two little tracts, "There is No Natural Religion" and "All Religions are One".

 

1789 - Wrote one of his poetry collection "Songs of Innocence".

  

1791 - He wrote his mystical book, "The Marriage of Heaven and Hell".

 
1793 - Moved to south of the Thames to Lambeth. They lived there for seven years, and this, the period of Blake's greatest worldly prosperity, was also that of his deepest spiritual uncertainty.

1794 - Finished a slightly rearranged version of "Songs of Innocence" with the addition of "Songs of Experience"; the double collection, in Blake's own words in the subtitle, “shewing the two contrary states of the human soul”.

1795-1797 - Commissioned by a bookseller to make designs for an edition of "Edward Young's Night Thoughts". He worked and produced 537 watercolour drawings.

1800 - Invited by William Hayley, a Sussex squire, Blake and his wife went to live in a cottage provided by Hayley at Felpham on the Sussex coast.

1803 - The Blakes returned to London.

1804–1808 - Blake engraved "Milton". This poem is a comparatively brief epic which deals with a contest between the hero (Milton) and Satan; it too is couched in the prophetic grandeur and obscurity of Blake's invented mythology.

         - "Jerusalem" is Blake's third major epic and his longest poem that was written and engraved soon after the completion of "Milton", it is also the most richly decorated of Blake's illuminated books, and only a few of its 100 plates are without illustration.

1809 - Made a last effort to put his work before the public and held an exhibition of 16 paintings and watercolour drawings.

1819 - Found a new and generous patron in the painter John Linnell, who introduced him to a group of young artists among whom was Samuel Palmer.

1821 - Linnell commissioned him to make a series of 22 watercolours inspired by the "Book of Job"; these include some of his best known pictures.

1825-1827 - Linnell also commissioned Blake's designs for "Dante's Divine Comedy", but was left unfinished at his death.

 

         - Created "Illustrations to the Book of Job".

         - Toward the end of his life Blake still coloured copies of his books while resting in bed, and that is how he died in a room off the Strand in his 70th year. He was buried in an unmarked grave in Bunhill Fields.

Page last updated: 12:59am, 13th Feb '07
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