Stairway to Heaven

Jacob's Ladder, Blake, William (1757-1827) (detail) / British Museum, London, UK
Jacob's Ladder, Blake, William (1757-1827) (detail) / British Museum, London, UK

Poet, printmaker, visionary, the British artist William Blake (1757-1827) made work that is both profoundly personal and universal.

There is now the opportunity to visit a recreation of  his first and only solo exhibition at Tate Britain. Originally shown in a dimly lit, small room above a shop in Soho in 1809, the reconstructed exhibition features nine of the works originally shown together exactly 200 years ago. Two pictures from the show, Jacob's Ladder and Christ in the Sepulchre are illustrated here.

Christ in the Sepulchre, Guarded by Angels by Blake, William (1757-1827) Victoria & Albert Museum, London, UK
Christ in the Sepulchre, Guarded by Angels by Blake, William (1757-1827) Victoria & Albert Museum, London, UK

 Critical reception

"... an unfortunate lunatic, whose personal inoffensiveness secures him from confinement."

Robert Hunt in his review for The Examiner

The original show was poorly attended and only received one, negative review in the press, which led the eccentric British poet, artist and visionary to further withdraw from public life.

Wiliam Blake in Popular Culture

Two hundred years later, William Blake is recognised as being one of the most important British artists of the Romantic Age where factors including an unwillingness to compromise his unique vision to fit in with the orthodoxy of the day have huge appeal.

His artistic endeavors in many cases espoused a sexual and imaginative freedom which particularly resonated in the 1960s. Among the artists, poets and musicians said to be significantly influenced by him are Bob Dylan and The Doors.  

Over 800 images of Blake's paintings, illustrations and poems can be accessed, downloaded and licensed through the Bridgeman website.
 

 


 


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