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William Blake: Masterpieces Of Art by Michael Kerrigan (book review).

February 9, 2021 | By | 2 Replies More

William Blake Masterpieces by Michael Kerrigan
Front cover – The Ancient Of Days from Europe, A Prophecy, 1793. Courtesy of Bridgeman Images/Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge.

Reading about artist, satirist and writer William Blake (1757-1827) and you certainly come away thinking he was a renaissance man. He was a contemporary of a lot of famous London writers but only he painted or etched as well, the latter being his formal training. Much of his art was in fantasy, hence my interest in Michael Kerrigan’s book, ‘William Blake’, part of Flame Tree’s ‘Masterpieces Of Art’ books. The first 27 pages outline his history and the 101 pages after devoted to his art in 4 sections ‘Gothic’, ‘Prophetic & Mythological’, ‘Biblical’ and ‘Visionary’ making it an ideal artbook. Curiously, Blake wasn’t even religious but just saw it as a source for fantasy material.

When you consider the time he was alive, the likes of SF and fantasy didn’t exist, so what would you have picked for your subjects Kerrigan also points out Blake’s influence on our genre. Blake was also certainly an eccentric and would certainly have been thought a geek if he lived in our current century. A couple of his poems are included in some of his illustrations and you certainly would have recognised ‘Tyger, Tyger’ for the original title of Alfred Bester’s, ‘The Days My Destination’ novel.

William Blake Masterpieces by Michael Kerrigan
p6 – Portrait Of William Blake, 1807, by Thomas Phillips (1770–1845). Courtesy of Getty Images/Print Collector, Hulton Fine Art Collection, Photo By Ann Ronan Pictures
p7 – Pity, 1795. Courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art/Gift of Mrs. Robert W. Goelet

 

William Blake Masterpieces by Michael Kerrigan
p14 – The Wise and Foolish Virgins, c.1822. Courtesy of Bridgeman Images/Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection
p15 – The Angel Appearing To Zacharias, 1799–1800. Courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art/Bequest of William Church Osborn

I was surprised at the range of Blake’s art styles although easily recognised by his muscular men and attention to detail. Blake worked in a variety of styles but his men were often recognised for being extremely muscular and bent over heads. This is also the first time I’ve seen an illustration of Blake and his wife and it quickly became apparent that he used her and curly haired self as models for his work when needed.

William Blake Masterpieces by Michael Kerrigan
p60 – Frontispiece to Visions Of The Daughters Of Albion, 1793. Courtesy of Bridgeman Images/Fitzwilliam Museum, University of Cambridge, UK
p61 – Glad Day, Or The Dance Of Albion, c. 1794. Courtesy of Bridgeman Images/British Museum, London, UK

Flame Tree have 36 books in this ‘Masterpieces Of Art’ selection, several others fall under our remit so we should be having a look at those as well.

p60 – Frontispiece to Visions Of The Daughters Of Albion, 1793. Courtesy of Bridgeman Images/Fitzwilliam Museum, University of Cambridge, UK
p61 – Glad Day, Or The Dance Of Albion, c. 1794. Courtesy of Bridgeman Images/British Museum, London, UK
pp114–15 – Elohim Creating Adam, 1795. Courtesy of Getty Images/De Agostini Editorial

GF Willmetts

January 2021

(pub: Flame Tree Publishing. 128 page square hardback. Price: £12.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-1- 78664-812-9)

check out website: wwwflametreepublishing.com

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Category: Books, Illustration

About the Author ()

Geoff Willmetts has been editor at SFCrowsnest for some 21 plus years now, showing a versatility and knowledge in not only Science Fiction, but also the sciences and arts, all of which has been displayed here through editorials, reviews, articles and stories. With the latter, he has been running a short story series under the title of ‘Psi-Kicks’ If you want to contribute to SFCrowsnest, read the guidelines and show him what you can do. If it isn’t usable, he spends as much time telling you what the problems is as he would with material he accepts. This is largely how he got called an Uncle, as in Dutch Uncle. He’s not actually Dutch but hails from the west country in the UK.

Comments (2)

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  1. Julian White says:

    Thank you for identifying the illustrations you used – most helpful!

    • UncleGeoff says:

      Hello Julian
      It’s all to do with getting permission from the publishers and copyright which is why we hold back until this is all given before we can do interiors with visual books to show content.
      Geoff

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