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ISBN 0810957108 / 9780810957107 / 0-8109-5710-8
Publisher Harry N. Abrams
› Find signed collectible books: 'William Blake'
One day in the late 1760s, when William Blake was a little boy enrolled in a London drawing school, a strange thing happened as he walked across Peckham Rye. He saw "a tree filled with angels, bright angelic wings bespangling every bough like stars." These spirits, and a host of other creatures that peopled his fervent imagination, would later be immortalized in the engravings and poems he printed on his own press, which have placed him in the first rank of British artists and literary figures. And so it is surprising that this fine book--impeccable in every respect, from the detailed yet easy-to-follow notes on individual prints, drawings, and paintings to the quality and thoughtful presentation of the 250 reproductions--wasn't published sooner. It accompanies "William Blake," the largest-ever exhibition of the artist's works, which originated at the Tate Britain and is at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York through May 27, 2001.
Essays by biographer and novelist Peter Ackroyd and Romantic poetry specialist Marilyn Butler set the stage for the haunting images of powerful, accursed, and spectral figures on succeeding pages. The four sections of the book address key aspects of Blake's art. The first one focuses on the influence of Gothic style and spiritualism on his style. The second deals with Blake's life during the 1790s in the South London village of Lambeth, where he harnessed his printmaking innovations to radical political views. It is intriguing to learn how even Blake's new, typically contrary method of etching in relief was a metaphor for his belief in divinely inspired innate ideas. The third section discusses the odd characters that peopled Blake's works, and the fourth surveys his major illuminated books (including Songs of Innocence and Experience), which he created, in his words, "under the direction of Messengers from Heaven, Daily & Nightly." --Cathy Curtis [via]