About William Blake Paintings

by Scott Cornell

William Blake was an English poet and visionary, but some of his most memorable work was his paintings. He was born in 1757 and, according to author and historian Philip Coppens, gave Britain a sense of identity during a time when it lacked such a thing. Above all, Blake was considered a very mystic person, and such characteristics can be seen in his art.

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Inspiration

Unlike most artists from his era, William Blake didn't draw his inspiration from life. Instead, he drew his inspiration from representations and visions of what he saw or knew of another world. For example, Coppens states that Blake's brother, Robert, visited him following his death to inform him of the type of art he would create. Blake's peers from the era said that he suffered from hallucinations. Others called him mad.

Landscape

If you take a look at Blake's work, one thing in particular should stand out to you -- his landscapes aren't like anything we're typically used to. All Blake's backgrounds are eternal, meaning that they're endless. Some examples are just plain blackness, or stars in the night sky. These differed from the landscapes of other paintings, which often portray actual physical landforms. Such eternal landscapes are characteristic of Blake's work.

Great Red Dragon

According to Artcyclopedia, Blake was commissioned to paint a series of paintings illustrating books from the Bible between 1805 and 1810. This project produced a four-painting series of Blake's most recognized work, "The Great Red Dragon," which depicted Satan from the Book of Revelations. The dragon, which symbolizes the devil, is portrayed with seven heads and ten horns and his tail is depicted to throw one third of all the stars from the sky back down to Earth.

Beliefs/Other work

Although Blake painted Christian images, he considered himself a mystical prophet, and not so much a Biblical one. He was a follower of Emmanuel Swedenborg, who offered a gentle and more mystic interpretation of Christianity. Another one of Blake's most famous paintings is titled "Newton." It was influenced by Freemasonry, and a central character is depicted as an architect of the universe. He died in 1827 while working on "Dante's Inferno."