Monday, November 21, 2011

Blake Illuminations

Example pages from William Blake's:

  • Songs of Innocence
  • Songs of Experience
  • The Book of Thel
  • Visions of the Daughters of Albion
"If a method of Printing which combines the Painter and the Poet is a phenomenon worthy of public attention, provided that it exceeds in elegance all former methods, the Author is sure of his reward." WB 1793

"The great advance in Blake's printmaking occurred in 1787, following the untimely death, probably from tuberculosis, of the artist's beloved younger brother Robert [..]. Blake reported discovering his wholly original method of "relief etching" — which creates a single, raised printing surface for both text and image — in a vision of Robert soon after his death.

Relief etching allowed Blake to control all aspects of a book's production: he composed the verses, designed the illustrations (preparing word and image almost simultaneously on the same copper printing plate), printed the plates, colored each sheet by hand (where necessary), and bound the pages together in covers. The resulting "illuminated books" were written in a range of forms — prophecies, emblems, pastoral verses, biblical satire, and children's books — and addressed various timely subjects — poverty, child exploitation, racial inequality, tyranny, religious hypocrisy." [source] [Also see: Illuminated Printing]

etched title page by William Blake: 'Songs of innocence and of experience : shewing the two contrary states of the human soul'

Songs of innocence (parent + winged child)

Songs of Innocence (Introduction)

Songs of innocence (frontispiece)

Songs of innocence (The Divine Image)

Songs of innocence (the Blossom)

Songs of Experience - title page (cropped)

Songs of Experience (The Sick Rose)

Songs of Experience (The Clod of the Pebble)

Songs of Experience (The Tyger)

Songs of Experience (The Human Abstract)

The Book of Thel (title page)

The Book of Thel (..Then Thel astonish'd..)

The Book of Thel (.. But he that loves the lowly..)

The Book of Thel (..The Eternal Gates..)

Visions of the Daughters of Albion (title page)

Visions of the Daughters of Albion (The Argument)

Visions of the Daughters of Albion a

Visions of the Daughters of Albion (The End)

"William Blake was born in London on November 28, 1757 [d. 1827], to James, a hosier, and Catherine Blake. Two of his six siblings died in infancy. From early childhood, Blake spoke of having visions—at four he saw God "put his head to the window"; around age nine, while walking through the countryside, he saw a tree filled with angels.

Although his parents tried to discourage him from "lying", they did observe that he was different from his peers and did not force him to attend conventional school. He learned to read and write at home. At age ten, Blake expressed a wish to become a painter, so his parents sent him to drawing school. Two years later, Blake began writing poetry. When he turned fourteen, he apprenticed with an engraver because art school proved too costly. One of Blake's assignments as apprentice was to sketch the tombs at Westminster Abbey, exposing him to a variety of Gothic styles from which he would draw inspiration throughout his career. After his seven-year term ended, he studied briefly at the Royal Academy." [continued]


Anonymous said...

Have always loved Wm Blake.
The Occupy Wall St movement could use him right now…

Fredrik L said...

"I must create my own system or be enslav’d by another man’s."

I love these illustrations. A friend of mine used to claim, not uncontroversially, that Blake invented the comic book, or at least inspired it. Let's go ahead and claim that he also inspired Radiohead to self-release In Rainbows a few years ago.

Ah! Blake ruled. And now, I'm sure, he rules Heaven and/or Hell.

I love this blog, and have followed it for years. Long-time listener, first-time caller.

Love from Sweden

Tiffany D. Davidson said...

Really lovely

Víctor Biehler said...

From the innocence I thought he was someone special. Now from experience I think it's one of those people who has the divine ability to see beyond.

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