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The human heart and face

Friday, 12 August, 2016

On this day in 1827, William Blake died. The English poet, painter, printmaker and visionary was largely unrecognised during his lifetime, but is now considered a pivotal figure in the arts of the Romantic Age. When he was 14, his family decided that he would be apprenticed to an engraver, so his father took him to William Ryland, a highly respected master of the trade. The boy, however, resisted the arrangement telling his father, “I do not like the man’s face: it looks as if he will live to be hanged!” The grim prophecy came true 12 years later.

William Blake’s uncanny ability to expose the face that lies behind the mask resulted in some revealing and enduring paintings and poetry.

A Divine Image

Cruelty has a Human Heart
And Jealousy a Human Face
Terror the Human Form Divine
And Secrecy, the Human Dress

The Human Dress, is forged Iron
The Human Form, a fiery Forge.
The Human Face, a Furnace seal’d
The Human Heart, its hungry Gorge.

William Blake (1757 – 1827)

William Blake - Nebuchadnezzar

William Blake’s Nebuchadnezzar is a print portraying the Old Testament Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar II. The story of Nebuchadnezzar tells of a ruler who through hubris lost his mind and was reduced to madness and eating “grass as oxen.”


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