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 both the poetry and visual arts of the Romantic Age
William Blake was born on 28 November 1757 at 28 Broad Street (now Broadwick St) in the Soho district of London.
He was the third of seven children, two of whom died in infancy. Blake's father, James, was a hosier.
William attended school only long enough to learn reading and writing, leaving at the age of ten,
and was otherwise educated at home by his mother Catherine Wright Armitage Blake.
Blake started engraving copies of drawings of Greek antiquities purchased for him by his father, a practice that was then preferred to actual drawing. Within these drawings Blake found his first exposure to classical forms through the work of Raphael, Michelangelo, Marten Heemskerk and Albrecht Durer
On 8 October 1779, Blake became a student at the Royal Academy in Old Somerset House, near the Strand. While the terms of his study required no payment, he was expected to supply his own materials throughout the six-year period. There, he rebelled against what he regarded as the unfinished style of fashionable painters such as Rubens, championed by the school's first president, Joshua Reynolds.
'The Dante watercolours are among Blake's richest achievements, engaging fully with the problem of illustrating a poem of this complexity. The mastery of watercolour has reached an even higher level than before, and is used to extraordinary effect in differentiating the atmosphere
Blake's illustrations of the poem are not merely accompanying works, but rather seem to critically revise, or furnish commentary on, certain spiritual or moral aspects of the text
On the day of his death, Blake worked relentlessly on his Dante series. Eventually, it is reported, he ceased working and turned to his wife, who was in tears by his bedside. Beholding her, Blake is said to have cried, "Stay Kate! Keep just as you are. I will draw your portrait, for you have ever been an angel to me." Having completed this portrait (now lost), Blake laid down his tools and began to sing hymns and verses. At six that evening, after promising his wife that he would be with her always, Blake died.
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