“If a thing loves, it is infinite.” ~William Blake
William Blake was a British poet, painter, and printmaker. Largely unrecognized during his lifetime, Blake is now considered a formative figure in the history of both the poetry and visual arts of the Romantic Age. His prophetic works such as “The Marriage of Heaven and Hell” and “Jerusalem” have stirred the imagination of generations of thinkers and artists, while his lyric poems such as “Ah! Sunflower” and “The Tiger” continue to be popular favorites.
Blake was born in London on November 28, 1757, to a family of artisans. His mother was a stay-at-home wife and his father was a hosier. At an early age, he began to engrave drawings of Greek antiquities purchased for him by his father.
He studied at the Drawing Academy in 1779, and from there went on to study at the Royal Academy in 1780. However he was never happy with the traditional teachings there, and throughout his life rejected many of the popular notions about art, especially the hierarchical distinction between high art and popular art.
William Blake’s Marriage and Career
William married Catherine Boucher in 1782 and the couple lived happily together, though they had no children. He continued to work as a professional engraver during much of his career, which earned him a modest living, but he also pursued his own artistic projects on the side. These included illustrated books of his own poetry such as Songs of Innocence (1789) and Songs of Experience (1794), as well as commercial work for book illustrations and paintings.
Blake’s visual artworks are characterized by rich symbolism and vivid imagination. His poetic works are noted for their rhythmical patterns and use of imagery. He died in London on August 12, 1827, at the age of 70.
Recognition of William Blake
While he was largely unrecognized in his own time, Blake is now considered a pivotal figure in the history of both poetry and visual art. His visionary works have inspired generations of artists and thinkers, while his lyric poems remain popular favorites.