Go see – New York: ‘William Blake’s World: A New Heaven Is Begun’ at The Morgan Library & Museum, through Jan 3, 2010

September 17th, 2009

William Blake, Melancholy

“William Blake’s World: A New Heaven is Begun” runs at the Morgan Library & Museum through January 3, 2010. The Morgan has one of the the largest Blake collections in the world; this exhibition, containing some 100 works, is focused on providing an opportunity to view Blake’s extraordinary creativity throughout the many disciplines in which he worked. Assembled are some of Blake’s most spectacular watercolours, prints, and illuminated books of poetry.

Morgan Library & Museum Homepage [themorgan.org]
The Palace of Excess Imagination
New Morgan exhibition to present genius of William Blake [ArtDaily]
Pictures courtesy of The Morgan Library & Museum

William Blake, America: A Prophecy

More text and pictures after the jump…

William Blake, Behemoth and Leviathan

William M. Griswold, director of the Morgan Museum & Library, acknowledges that “the name William Blake means different things to different people – engraver, painter, poet, visionary all apply to Blake – all are accurate.” Although we now recognize Blake’s exploration of these many creative disciplines, he was best recognized during his lifetime for his work in the medium for which he was trained; engraving.

Interestingly, the pieces that steal the show in this exhibition are not Blake’s engravings but his watercolors, most notably his seminal 21 illustrations for the Book of Job, which is considered one of his greatest works. The series begin with a basic tableau of Job and his family, moving on through his trials and reach a crescendo when he returns to where he started. This work is particularly noted as it reveals much about Blake’s personal engagement with biblical texts. Blake, the son of a London haberdasher and a religious dissenter is known to have privately studied the Bible from a young age.

William Blake, Fire

William Blake, The Sun at His Eastern Gate

Other important works on display include his drawing “Fire” which addresses the subject of war and 12 drawings illustrating John Milton’s poems “L’Allegro” and “Il Penseroso”, both of which were undertaken for Blake’s principal patron Thomas Butts.

In order to shed some light on the artistic milleu surrounding Blake, the museum has included works by friends and contemporaries; drawings by a group of younger artists, The Ancients, who assembled around Blake are included as well as works by the better known painters Samuel Palmer and Henry Fuseli.

William Blake, Illustrations of the Book of Job

William Blake, Mirth