William Blake (1757-1827) was a English painter, engraver, poet, and mystic, a leading figure in the Romantic period.
His visionary, symbolic poems include Songs of Innocence in 1789 and Songs of Experience in 1794. He engraved the text and illustrations for his works and hand-coloured them, mostly in watercolour. He also illustrated works by others, including the poet Milton, and created a highly personal style.
He was born in Soho, London, and apprenticed to an engraver (1771-1778). Blake illustrated the Bible, works by Dante and Shakespeare, and his own poems. His figures are heavily muscled with elongated proportions.
In his later years he attracted a group of followers including Samuel Palmer, who called themselves the Ancients.
Henry Fuseli was another admirer. Blake's poem Jerusalem in 1820 was set to music by Charles Parry (1848-1918).
Why is William Blake famous?
William Blake was a English painter and leading figure in the visual arts of the Romantic Age.