Art in focus: September 2019
The Ancient of Days
William Blake, etching and watercolour
It’s a very bold thing to do, to picture God. But this didn’t deter the visionary artist William Blake. He made this image of the Ancient of Days – the title taken from chapter seven of the book of Daniel – but the image is more complicated than that. As well as a painter and printmaker, William Blake was a poet and visionary who imagined a whole world of his own mythology. He conceived this figure as Urizen, an ambivalent figure, the embodiment of reason and law – but there is more to life than that. It could be argued that this image has had a profound influence on widely-held ideas of God as an old man with a long, white beard – ideas that persist to this day. The 21st century critic Jonathan Jones has proclaimed Blake ‘far and away the greatest artist Britain has ever produced’. This autumn, Tate Britain is presenting a major exhibition of over 300 original works, including his watercolours, paintings and print. Well worth a visit.
William Blake will be at Tate Britain, from 11 September 2019 to 2 February 2020.
Art in focus is curated by Meryl Doney
Photograph: Wikimedia Commons
This article was published in the September 2019 edition of Reform