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William Blake

Born: London, 28 November 1757
Died: London, 12 August 1827
Nationality: English

son of a knitwear salesman


drawing school of Henry Pars (1767-72); apprenticed to engraver James Basire (1772-79); Royal Academy (1779-80)


1783 –John Flaxman helps finance publication of Blake’s Poetical Sketches

1785 – exhibits Story of Joseph (Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge), a series of three watercolors, at the RA

1787 –begins developing relief etching to self publish his illuminated prints

1791 – illustrates Mary Wollstonecraft’s Original Stories from Real Life; joins politically progressive circle of publisher Joseph Johnson along  with Wollstonecraft and Heinrich Fuseli

1793-95 – produces series of illuminated prophetic books

1800-03 – Flaxman arranges work as assistant to poet William Hayley

1809-10 –retrospective exhibition in Blake’s childhood home

Commissions from: 

Thomas Butts, John Linnell

Important Artworks: 

Songs of Innocence, 1789 (illuminated book)

The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, 1789 (illuminated book)

Songs of Experience, 1794 (illuminated book)

Europe:  A Prophecy, 1794 (illuminated book)

The Ancient of Days, 1794 (British Museum, London)

Jerusalem: The Emanation of the Giant Albion, 1804-20 (illuminated  book)

Milton: A Poem in 2 Books, 1804-09 (illuminated book)