Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Fighting Blake

Wiki Commons
Portrait by
Thomas Phillips

Blake was not a tall man, but well formed, stocky, muscular.  He had a violent temper at times and on one occasion had to resort to fisticuffs.

He was also a city man, staying pretty much in London and it's close surroundings. But on one occasion he was invited to use a fairly large cottage on the sea--at Felpam.   

He wrote that "Felpham is a sweet place for Study. because 
it is more Spiritual than London."

The cottage was about 50 yards down the road from a 
military barrack housing a number of soldiers; A drunk 
soldier had wandered into Blake's garden. Blake
politely asked him to leave, but it wasn't to be. Hard words
were exchanged, and Blake turned him around and taking 
him on his elbows propelled him out of the Garden. The 
man remained outside and continued to revile Blake.
Using the same method Blake propelled him about 50
yards to the barrack.

Blake found himself charged with high treason by the soldier,
John Scofield by name, but the jurors completed exonerated Blake.

With that matter settled Blake returned to London, where he
spent the rest of his life.

Blake was so guilless that many people in the art business took advantage of him in various ways:

A man named Cromek bought from Blake a number of drawings to be engraved by Blake for considerable money; he paid Blake a modest sum and agreed to have Blake engrave them for a much larger sum. But he then contracted another engraver, much to Blake's chagrin. 

As a result of that affair as well as many similar ones Blake lost
a number of his friends, such as John Flaxman (who became England's preeminent sculptor) and  an artist named Fuselo.

Blake and Flaxman were friends from childhood and Flaxman went out of his way to help young Blake get along with his career. But things became unraveled one way or another.

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