William Blake: The Remarkable Printing Process of the English Poet, Artist & Visionary

William Blake: The Remarkable Printing Process of the English Poet, Artist & Visionary


One of the very distinctive aspects of this exhibition is that we are recreating the studio that Blake used in Hercules buildings in Lambert in the
1790s. This was his great period when he was making his most famous and influential illuminated books and the extraordinary series of monotypes,
as we might call them nowadays, the large prints – Newton and so forth – in 1795. Medieval illuminated manuscripts, as the epithet suggests, were not only text but they were illuminated with designs that interweaved paragraphs of the text that had lead letters that were in images. Sometimes more than half of the sheet would be illuminated with a design, with an image. Conventional illustrated books were produced, for centuries, in two completely different workshops, managed by what we would call a
publisher today, a bookseller before, and the bookseller would receive the manuscript and edit it and decide whether it was to
be illustrated. If it was to be illustrated he would
commission an artist to make the illustrations and then an
engraver to copy them. By Blake realizing that if he used stop out varnish to write his text in
reverse on the plate then draw his design around in interleaving,
that he could print both his text and illustration in
the same press, in his own studio, and this allowed him to circumvent political constraints that might be imposed by some form of censorship like the wars with France and others. So it gave him absolute freedom. This is really the first time that
we’ve been able to give the public an impression of how Blake worked, how
he actually made the prints that we are looking at in the exhibition, and that i think is going to be very exciting indeed.

One thought on “William Blake: The Remarkable Printing Process of the English Poet, Artist & Visionary”

  • Carla Allende says:

    Michael Phillips! Apart from a great artist, a really generous one! Thank you for sharing your art and knowledge. Warm regards from Argentina!

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