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  • William Blake, 'Elohim Creating Adam' 1795/circa 1805

    William Blake
    Elohim Creating Adam 1795/circa 1805
    Colour print finished in ink and watercolour on paper
    support: 431 x 536 mm
    Presented by W. Graham Robertson 1939

    View the main page for this artwork

  • William Blake, 'Songs of Innocence and of Experience: Infant Sorrow' 1794, reprinted 1831 or later

    William Blake
    Songs of Innocence and of Experience: Infant Sorrow 1794, reprinted 1831 or later
    Relief etching on paper
    image: 112 x 97 mm
    Presented by Mrs John Richmond 1922

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Working, by his own account, under the inspiration of his recently-deceased brother Robert, in 1788 Blake invented a new form of relief etching in colour. Using this ‘illuminated printing’ method to combine texts and images, Blake created a series of poems and ‘prophetic books’ including Songs of Innocence and of Experience (1789–94), America a Prophecy (1793), Europe a Prophecy (1794), Milton (1804–11) and Jerusalem (1804–20).

Although Blake’s paintings and watercolours are richly represented at Tate, his printmaking has been collected more extensively by the national collections held by the V&A and British Museum. The ‘illuminated books’ are represented here by later reprints and separate images that Blake printed without the textual elements. Blake’s most ambitious series of separate prints was his ‘Large Colour Prints’ (c.1795–1805) showing subjects from the Bible, Milton, Shakespeare and his imagination. These were created using a form of relief printing combined with hand colouring to create rich painterly images he described as ‘frescos’.