This room provides a showcase for a changing selection of Blake works from Tate’s collection
William Blake (1757–1827) is admired today as an artist of supreme originality but his art was little appreciated in his lifetime. He was born in Soho, London and spent his whole life in the city. After training as an engraver he was employed by commercial publishers to undertake relatively mundane engraving work. In his own time he developed radical new approaches to painting and printmaking to explore highly personal interpretations of Christian themes.
While his work was admired by a handful of artists and collectors, Blake was generally regarded as an oddball visionary. His reputation began to improve more generally in the later nineteenth century, as ideas about creativity shifted to become more accommodating of his singularity. Although the collection of British art at the Tate traditionally focused on oil painting – a medium Blake never used – his works have long been given special treatment by the gallery. The gift and bequest of more than twenty of Blake’s works by the writer and artist W. Graham Robertson (1866–1948) together with many other individual purchases and gifts means that Tate holds one of the world’s most important collections of Blake. The first dedicated ‘Blake Room’ was opened at the Tate Gallery in 1923, and there were major exhibitions here in 1913, 1947, 1978 and 2001.
This room provides a showcase for a changing selection of works from the collection. As all Blake’s works are fragile they can be shown only for limited periods under reduced lighting conditions.
This display has been devised by curator Martin Myrone.