Artist
William Blake
English Romantic poet and artist

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William Blake
English Romantic poet and artist
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Birth Date

1757

Death Date

1827

ajardini's picture

Sr. Editor

William Blake was, and continues to be, a very famous poet and artist who lived in 18th century London.  He was religious, but political, and stuck it to the man in a variety of ways that pissed people off. Never one to follow the crowd, he once said, “To Generalize is to be an Idiot; To Particularize is the Alone Distinction of Merit.” Amen! But perhaps not the best way to make friends.

His dad was a “hosier” as in he made hosiery, like stockings and socks, which is a hilariously old-fashioned profession.  

Blake wooed his wife, Catherine Boucher, with the time-honored tradition of complaining about a bad breakup. He asked her “Do you pity me?” and when she said yes, told her he loved her.  Somehow this worked and they actually had a long and happy marriage.  Blake, being a sort of feminist for his time, taught her how to read, write and engrave.  He even wrote an allegorical poem about women owning their own sexuality. More Blake-isms we can agree with.

Blake’s artwork is, for the lack of a better term, awesome. It’s fantastical, filled with mythical creatures, dark and mysterious, weird and beautiful. It was too much for the guy who inherited his oeuvre after Catherine’s death- Frederick Tatham burned the bits he thought were sacrilegious or too poltically extreme.  Another guy even erased sexual imagery from a bunch of Blake’s drawings. Squares.  Later, the beat poet generation was hep to what Blake was serving, and both Bob Dylan and Jim Morrison cited him as an influence. And if that’s not cool, I don’t know what is.

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Here is what Wikipedia says about William Blake

William Blake (28 November 1757 – 12 August 1827) was an English poet, painter, and printmaker. Largely unrecognised during his lifetime, Blake is now considered a seminal figure in the history of the poetry and visual arts of the Romantic Age. What he called his prophetic works were said by 20th-century critic Northrop Frye to form "what is in proportion to its merits the least read body of poetry in the English language". His visual artistry led 21st-century critic Jonathan Jones to proclaim him "far and away the greatest artist Britain has ever produced". In 2002, Blake was placed at number 38 in the BBC's poll of the 100 Greatest Britons. While he lived in London his entire life, except for three years spent in Felpham, he produced a diverse and symbolically rich œuvre, which embraced the imagination as "the body of God" or "human existence itself".

Although Blake was considered mad by contemporaries for his idiosyncratic views, he is held in high regard by later critics for his expressiveness and creativity, and for the philosophical and mystical undercurrents within his work. His paintings and poetry have been characterised as part of the Romantic movement and as "Pre-Romantic". A committed Christian who was hostile to the Church of England (indeed, to almost all forms of organised religion), Blake was influenced by the ideals and ambitions of the French and American Revolutions. Though later he rejected many of these political beliefs, he maintained an amiable relationship with the political activist Thomas Paine; he was also influenced by thinkers such as Emanuel Swedenborg. Despite these known influences, the singularity of Blake's work makes him difficult to classify. The 19th-century scholar William Rossetti characterised him as a "glorious luminary", and "a man not forestalled by predecessors, nor to be classed with contemporaries, nor to be replaced by known or readily surmisable successors".

Check out the full Wikipedia article about William Blake.