Illustration, Illumination and Creative Conflict in the Work of William Blake

Activity: Talk or presentationInvited talk


Poet, painter and printer William Blake (1757-1827) was engaged in various forms of illustration throughout his career. Trained as an engraver, for much of his life his most reliable source of income was from commercial engravings that illustrated a variety of texts. He also had several patrons who commissioned original paintings and watercolours depicting subjects from the Bible and literature. And of course, Blake created his own illuminated poems that combine text and image. However, the term ‘illustration’ may not capture the complexity of relationships between image and text in many of Blake’s work. For example: uncompromising in his views, when illustrating texts by others, Blake often used his designs to critique ideas in the texts that he disagreed with, so that his designs are in creative conflict with the texts. Elsewhere, in his own illuminated poems, the relationships between word and image can be cryptic. The seminar will explore some of these complexities in Blake’s work. It will centre especially on the figure of Christ, who appears in almost all of Blake’s major bodies of work; this focus will act as a guiding thread to explore a range of Blake’s work in different contexts throughout his career.
3 Apr 2019

External organisation

NameWinchester Art History Group