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William Blake 1757–1827
The House of Death
Medium Graphite, ink and watercolour on paper
Dimensions Support: 318 x 451 mm
Acquisition Bequeathed by Miss Alice G.E. Carthew 1940
View this artwork by appointment, at Tate Britain's Prints and Drawings Rooms
Blake believed John Milton to be England’s greatest poet, worthy of emulation but by no means above criticism. This drawing illustrates lines from Milton’s Paradise Lost (1667), which describe a ‘Lazar-house... , wherein were laid/Numbers of all diseas’d, all maladies/... Dire was the tossing, deep the groans, despaire/Tended the sick... / And over them triumphant Death his Dart/Shook’.
Blake claimed that his epic poem, Milton 1804, had been ‘recited’ to him by Milton’s spirit. In this poem Blake criticises the poet’s ideas, and Milton asks for his errors to be corrected.
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