The Underappreciated William Blake

By | September 6, 2019

test article image
circa 1800: English mystic, poet, painter and engraver, William Blake (1757 - 1827) and his wife Catherine (1762 - 1831). Original Publication: From a sketch by William Blake. Source: (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Williams Blake was a writer and artist of the 19th Century. While his work was largely disparaged in life and many of his contemporaries believed him to be insane, he is now considered among the most influential figures of the Romantic Period.

Blake was born in the Soho District of London on November 28, 1757. He was one of seven children born to James and Catherine Blake, though sadly two of his siblings died in infancy. Blake began experiencing visions at a young age. At four, he claimed to have seen God “put his head to the window.” At nine, he saw the prophet Ezekiel sitting under a tree filled with angels. These visions alienated him from other children and, as a result, he received the bulk of his early education at home.

test article image
William Blake. Ezekiel 1794 British Museum. Source: (Wikimedia Commons)

Blake expressed an interest in art at the age of ten and his parents enrolled him in Henry Pars’s drawing school. He began writing poetry around age twelve. Due to the high cost of art school, he took a job as an apprentice to an engraver at the age of fourteen. One of his assignments involved sketching the tombs and monuments of Westminster Abbey. This Gothic influence would be evident in his later works. His apprenticeship lasted seven years after which time he briefly attended the School of Design at the Royal Academy of Arts.