About the artist: William Blake (1757 – 1827) was an English poet and painter. Largely unrecognised during his lifetime, he is now considered one of the most important figures in the history of the poetry and visual arts of the Romantic Age. His artistry led 21st-century critic Jonathan Jones to proclaim him ‘far and away the greatest artist Britain has ever produced’.
Blake lived in London his entire life, where he produced a diverse and symbolically meaningful collection of work. Although he was considered mad by contemporaries for his unorthodox views at the time, he was held in high regard by later critics for his romantic ideals and expressiveness.
Blake was committed Christian influenced by the ideals and ambitions of the French and American Revolutions. He also wrote the lyrics to the hymn Jerusalem.
He worked tirelessly up until his death, promising his wife Catherine he would love her always. His last words were, ‘Stay Kate! Keep just as you are – I will draw your portrait – for you have ever been an angel to me.’
In 2002, Blake was placed at number 38 in the BBC’s poll of the 100 Greatest Britons.