Glossary entry for
The following extract was originally from the William Blake home page:
William Blake (b. Nov. 28, 1757, London -- d. Aug. 12, 1827, London) was the
first of the great English Romantic poets, as well as a painter, engraver and
Blake is frequently referred to as a mystic, but this is not really acurate. He
deliberately wrote in the style of the Hebrew prophets and envisioned his works
as expressions of prophecy, following in the footsteps (or, more precisely
strapping on the sandles) of Elijah and Milton.
The image shown here is one of Blake's most famous, titled "The Ancient of Days",
which also happens to be the title of a Van Morrison song. The relief etching
with watercolour appeared as the frontispiece to Blake's Europe: A
Prophecy of 1794. Blake did not give the image a title; as Martin Butler
(The Paintings and Drawings of William Blake, 1981) writes
It was J.T. Snow [Nollekens and his Times, 1828] who first called
this design "The Ancient of Days", relating it to Proverbs, viii, 27, but
Blake's meaning is closer to that of this own
Urizen, 1794, where, on plate 20, Urizen 'formed golden compasses
And began to explore the Abyss'. The Creator is equated with Urizen, whose
rational and materialist creation of the world excludes imagination.
The symbolism of this illustration, and its relationship to Blake's writings,
is described in Kenneth Clark's The Romantic Rebellion: Romantic versus
Classic Art (1973). There is also a separate Glossary entry with more background
on the term "The Ancient of Days".
Downloadable versions of Blake's "Ancient of Days" painting can be found at the
William Blake home page
(30Kb) and a larger, far more colour-rich version at the
WebMuseum, Paris (150Kb).
"Let the Slave" and "The Price of Experience" are two separate excerpts from
Four Zoas which is one of Blakes long prophetic poems.
More information available at:
Van references in:
Part of the van-the-man.info unofficial website