Tuesday, March 23, 2010


William Blake by John Linnell, 1821, Frontispiece for Gilchrist's Life of Blake (1863)

Unlike many artists, Blake did not often make himself the subject of his paintings. Nor was he often drawn or painted by others. There is one self-portrait, a pencil and wash drawing from 1803, the year in which the Blakes returned to London from Felpham in reduced circumstances. A formal portrait was made of him by Thomas Phillips for the frontispiece of Blair's, The Grave (published 1808), for which Blake designed illustrations.
When Blake was over 60 years old, a group of younger artists gathered about him to encourage and support one another (much as the Inklings gathered around CS Lewis more than 100 years later). John Linnell, a friend of Blake from this group, called The Ancients, did a pencil sketch of him, apparently as he was busily at work over his own drawing board in 1820.

A friend of mine has pointed out to me that in one of the watercolors Blake painted to illustrate John Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress, there appears to be a resemblance between Blake and Pilgrim.

Although we may not have many pictures of Blake to look at in order to form our own image of him, we are assured by Blake that nothing from this world will be lost. Everything that is happening in the 'here and now' is making a permanent record in Eternity.

Milton, PLATE 22 [24], (E 117):
"for not one Moment
Of Time is lost, nor one Event of Space unpermanent
But all remain: every fabric of Six Thousand Years
Remains permanent: tho' on the Earth where Satan
Fell, and was cut off all things vanish & are seen no more
They vanish not from me & mine, we guard them first & last
The generations of men run on in the tide of Time
But leave their destind lineaments permanent for ever & ever.
So spoke Los as we went along to his supreme abode."

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