me my bow of burning gold!
Bring me my arrows of desire!
Bring me my spear! O clouds, unfold!
Bring me my chariot of fire!
Milton, William Blake
Poet, illustrator, printmaker, and painter William Blake possessed
a wild and completely original imagination. Timid or
self-effacing Blake was not: in The Marriage of Heaven and Hell
he opined that his birth marked the origin of a 'new heaven' of
creativity -- a claim to which the subtitle of the Morgan show
alludes. To glimpse intimations of Blakean genius, it is
well worth paying a visit to the Morgan Library and Museum to see William
Blake's World: A New Heaven Is Begun.
Morgan's Blake Collection began as early as 1899 when Pierpont
Morgan first purchased his paintings. The curators have
assembled over 100 works, including some of Blake's most brilliant
watercolors, prints, and illuminated books of poetry. His
engravings were etched in copper - pages with text and
illustrations - and the pages printed from the engravings were
often painted with watercolors afterwards.
had a deliberate prophetic style, something of Milton there,
Milton whom he very much admired. He was also a sympathizer
with the French and American Revolutions, and a friend of Tom
Paine. Blake's work is suffused with Biblical allegories and
religious illustrations; included here are his famous 21
watercolor illustrations for the Book of Job created around
1805-10 and 12 drawings illustrating John Milton's poems L'Allegro
and Il Penseroso. His illuminations are generally
small in size, meticulously detailed, and were to influence the
pre-Raphaelites in particular.... To see the show is to step
into some marvelous world of the imagination....
see a world in a grain of sand,
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand,
And eternity in an hour....
Blake's World: A New Heaven Is Begun