William Blake


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Status, estimate and price of the artist William Blake

Drawing: 840 – 2,800,000 €.

Print: 30 – 10,100 €.

The youth of William Blake

William Blake, as famous for his poems as for his paintings, was born on 28 November 1757 and died on 12 August 1827 in London.

Seeing that he showed an excellent aptitude for poetry and drawing, William was sent by his parents, at the age of 10, to a drawing school where he wrote his first poems. Four years later, he became a pupil of an engraver who sent him to draw Gothic churches in London. His experience in Westminster helped to shape his artistic style and ideas. It was there that the poet was subject to his first visions as he saw Christ in the company of his apostles and a long procession of monks and priests who he heard chanting.

In 1779, Blake studied at the Royal Academy in London and rebelled against fashionable painters such as Rubens, glorified by Joshua Reynolds, then director of the School. Blake preferred the painting of Raphael or Michelangelo to Reynolds.

The illustrated writings of William Blake

William Blake married Catherine Boucher in 1782. He taught her to read and write and then trained her in engraving. Throughout her life, she proved to be an invaluable help to her husband and participated in the printing of his illuminated works.

Lacking financial means, he decided to become his own publisher. In 1788, Blake began experimenting with relief engraving, a method he used to produce many of his illustrated books, pamphlets and poems. The process is also that of illumination. He published his first works in 1789 and was very successful.

At the same time, he took part in the exhibitions of the Royal Academy by presenting his paintings whose subjects revolved around allegory, history and religion.

In 1800, the couple moved to Felpham in Sussex where Blake began to illustrate the work of a secondary poet, William Heyley. The collaboration went badly and the artist returned to London in 1804 where he wrote and illustrated Jerusalem, his most ambitious work.

At that time, his project was to illustrate the Canterbury Tales written by Geoffrey Chaucer, an English writer and poet of the 14th century. He organized his own exhibition at his brother’s haberdashery in Soho, but it was not successful and he did not sell any of his works.

William Blake and Dante’s Divine Comedy

In 1826, William Blake was commissioned to illustrate Dante’s Divine Comedy in a series of engravings. The artist’s death a year later cut short this undertaking, but the few illustrations he was able to complete show the dexterity of this poet who succeeded in illustrating a work by great complexity. The rendering of the different atmospheres is extraordinary.

Blake’s illustrations not only accompany the text, but seem to criticise, revise or comment on certain spiritual or moral aspects of the book.

Recognising William Blake’s signature

Like many artists, William Blake did not sign all of his works. However, you will find below an example of a signature in order to give you a first idea. Variations of this signature exist: do not hesitate to contact one of our experts to authenticate a signature in a formal way.

Expertise signature williame blake

Appraising and selling a painting by William Blake

If you own a painting or any other sculpture by William Blake, ask for a free estimate via our online form.

You will then be contacted by a member of our team of experts and auctioneers to give you an independent view of the market price of your painting. In the event of a sale, our specialists will also advise you on the various options available to sell your work at the best price.