Blake first became friendly with the Swiss-born painter Fuseli in about 1787. They both belonged to the group of artists and writers who gathered around the radical publisher Joseph Johnson. One of this group, Mary Wollstonecraft (no.20) fell passionately in love with Fuseli. In 1789 Fuseli was sympathetic to the aims of the French Revolution. However, after the Terror of 1793-4 in France, he saw little difference between the despotism of kings and that of the factions which replaced them. Blake, however, remained a 'Liberty Boy' to the end. The subject of this print, Wat Tyler, a blacksmith (like Blake's figure of Los) who led a rebellion against King Richard II, may reflect Fuseli's democratic leanings.
Gallery label, August 2004
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