William Blake

English (1757 - 1827)
William Blake The Lord Answering Job from the Whirlwind about 1803 - 1805


Born 1757
Died 1827
Nationality English
Birth place London
Death place London

Blake's vivid paintings and prints illustrate his originality as an artist, poet and mystic philosopher. His early apprenticeship with the engraver James Basire introduced him to a wide range of art works through prints. Blake was fascinated by Michelangelo's figures and also by medieval Gothic art. He combined both in his own visionary scenes painted in watercolour and in his experimental prints combining words and images. He was a student, briefly, at the Royal Academy in London, but his unorthodox views were incompatible with contemporary academic practice. Most of his prolific output was made for a few sympathetic, loyal patrons.

Glossary terms

  • The printmaking technique in which an image is inscribed on a copper plate with a tool that cuts a groove in the surface. This groove holds the ink that creates the print when it is applied to paper. Also refers to the method of making an incision on a material such as glass.

  • A form of printmaking in which a metal plate is covered with a substance called a 'ground', usually wax, into which an image is drawn with a needle. Acid is applied, eroding the areas of the plate exposed but not the areas covered by wax. The action of the acid creates lines in the metal plate that hold the ink from which a print is made when the plate is pressed against paper under pressure.

  • A movement in art, literature and music in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries that rejected neoclassical restraint in favour of emotion and individual expression.