William Blake: Unrecognised Genius

Sadly but History of art is full of personalities who were deprived of the appreciation they deserved during their lives. Some of them got recognition soon after their death, when for the others it took decades before their art was finally accepted by public. William Blake was one of them. He had only one show and nobody saw it. Blake mounted the show of 16 works himself in a room above his brother’s drapery shop in Golden Square, Soho. It opened in the summer of 1809. In the catalogue, which he also wrote, he says the exhibition will close on the 29 September when customers may take their purchases away. But it was still on the walls a year later, as if he did not have the heart to take it down. Naturally there were no sales. Enter one Robert Hunt, brother of the more famous Leigh, who wrote the only review of the show in The Examiner. He alleges that Blake cannot draw, saying the paintings on show are just “the ebullitions of a distempered brain” and Blake himself “an unfortunate lunatic” suffering from “egregious vanity.” This is a bright illustration to the situations, when the artist is the way ahead of his time.

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