William Blake
The Bard, from Gray ?1809

Artwork details

William Blake 1757–1827
The Bard, from Gray
Date ?1809
Medium Tempera and gold on canvas
Dimensions Support: 600 x 441 mm
frame: 775 x 623 x 70 mm
Acquisition Purchased 1920
On display at Tate Britain

Display caption

Blake saw the Bards as his forerunners; they sang of loss, the future, and nationhood.

This tempera has greatly altered since it was painted. Blake used a very thin, white, preparatory layer of chalk and glue. This was impregnated with more glue during a conservation ‘lining’ treatment more appropriate to an oil painting. This reduced the effect of transparent colours over a white background, and displaced some details painted in shell gold. Blake’s paint medium has also darkened greatly. The opaque red vermilion used for the line of blood, glazed over with madder lake, has survived better than blue areas.

September 2004

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