Blake became a student in the Royal Academy Schools in October 1779. There he seems to have met the Academy’s President, Sir Joshua Reynolds. One of Blake’s friends later said that when the young Blake showed Reynolds his designs, Reynolds recommended that Blake work with ‘less extravagance and more simplicity, and to correct his drawing.’
This watercolour, showing a scene from Shakespeare’s play King Lear, hints at what Reynolds meant. But the drawing of Niobe, hung above, shows Blake could draw carefully. He was always equally careful in his experiments with different paint mediums.