William Blake at Tate Britain, London | BLOUIN ARTINFO
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William Blake at Tate Britain, London

“Jerusalem, plate 28, proof impression, top design only,” 1820, William Blake (1757-1827), Relief etching with pen and black ink and watercolor on medium, Smooth wove paper, 111 x 159 mm,
(Courtesy of Yale Center for British Art (New Haven, USA))

London’s Tate Britain will showcase the largest survey of work by William Blake (1757-1827) in the UK for a generation. The exhibition opens on September 11, 2019, and runs through February 2, 2020.

Blake was a visionary painter, printmaker, and poet and created some of the most iconic images in the history of British art. On view are over 300 rarely seen works that rediscover Blake as a visual artist for the 21st century.

“Tate Britain will reimagine the artist’s work as he intended it to be experienced,” the institution says. His art was a product of the tumultuous times. What acted as a catalyst fuelling his unique imagination were revolution, war, and progressive politics. Yet, the artist-poet struggled to be understood and appreciated during his lifetime. Even though well-known as a poet, Blake had ambitions as an artist and wanted to create frescos that were never realized.

For the first time, two of Blake’s work ‘The Spiritual Form of Nelson Guiding Leviathan,’ c.1805-9 and ‘The Spiritual Form of Pitt Guiding Behemoth,’ c. 1805 are enlarged and projected onto the gallery wall on the huge scale that the artist had imagined. The original works are displayed nearby in a restaging of Blake’s 1809 exhibition. This was the artist’s only significant attempt at establishing himself as a reputed painter.  

According to Tate, it will “recreate the domestic room above his family hosiery shop in which the show was held, allowing visitors to encounter the paintings exactly as people did in 1809.”

The exhibition provides a vivid biological framework through which one can consider Blake’s life and work. There is a focus on London the artist’s native city and in which he spent most of his life. For Blake, the burgeoning metropolis was a constant source of inspiration. In which, harsh realities and pure imagination were woven together. “His creative freedom was also dependent on the unwavering support of those closest to him, his friends, family and patrons,” Tate adds. The show highlights the vital presence of Blake’s wife Catherine — she lent both practical assistance and became an unacknowledged help in the production of his engravings and illuminated books.

On display are a series of illustrations to “Pilgrim's Progress,” 1824-27 and a copy of the book “The complaint, and the consolation Night Thoughts,” 1797, now thought to be colored by Catherine.

Additional highlights include a selection of works from the Royal Collection and some of the artist’s best-known paintings including “Newton,” 1795-c.1805 and “Ghost of a Flea,” c.1819-20. The exhibition concludes with “The Ancient of Days 1827,” a frontispiece for an edition of “Europe: A Prophecy,” completed only days before the artist’s death.

The exhibition opens on September 11, 2019, and runs through February 2, 2020, at Tate Britain, Millbank, Westminster, London SW1P 4RG, UK.

For details, visit: https://uk.blouinartinfo.com/galleryguide-venues/1175400/museum-overview

Click on the slideshow for a sneak peek at the exhibition.


Founder: Louise Blouin