Exhibition Dates: September 8 - December 22, 2017
Opening Reception: Friday, September 15, 4 - 7 pm
Exhibition Hours: Tuesday - Saturday, 11 am - 5 pm
The William Blake Gallery presents William Blake: Dreams and Visions, a selection of work that illuminates the artist’s lifelong engagement with the immaterial world. The exhibition awakens a discourse on the perception of William Blake as a “madman” versus a progressive visionary. William Blake: Dreams and Visions consists of approximately 50 pieces including original prints from the Songs of Innocence hand-colored by Blake, and an original drawing executed by Blake as he conversed with a vision of a biblical figure.
As early as four years old, William Blake began experiencing visions. Against the backdrop of his gray and mundane London home he saw God, souls of the deceased, and even a tree filled with angels. Blake believed that everyone and everything, living or dead, emanated from a universal omnipresent spirit. He was often found conversing with these unearthly forces in his day-to-day life. This experience and perspective led him to create work considered radical for 19th century England -- he wrote about the innocence of animals and the cruelties that humans inflict upon them, the atrocity of slavery and racism, and themes of feminism and gender equality were frequent in his work. Accordingly for the time in which Blake lived, he was highly misunderstood and some thought him “mad”. However positioning Blake as a visionary, his beliefs very much align with contemporary culture, and trends in metaphysics and mysticism. William Blake: Dreams and Visions presents work that describes his relationship to spirit, and aspects of his progressive mindset.
The exhibition is curated from the collection of The William Blake Gallery, the largest collection in the world of available Blake work. This exceptional gathering of material gives the gallery a unique ability to support new examinations of William Blake’s works -- one of the greatest contributors to the Western world of literature and art.
Highlighted works include:
Cradle Song, two plates from the Songs of Innocence (1789) coloured by Blake
Holy Thursday, proof plate from the Songs of Innocence (1789)
Visionary Head: Jonathan, pencil sketch
Frontispiece, Lenore, clasping her spectral bridegroom, to Leonora. A Tale, Translated and altered from the German of Gottfried Augustus Burger
view additional work and images here
About the William Blake Gallery
The William Blake Gallery, a new exhibition space in San Francisco dedicated to works created by the influential 19th century poet, artist, and engraver. The gallery is the largest of its kind devoted solely to the artist, as well as the largest collection in the world of pieces by Blake available for purchase.
After 50 years in the book trade and 43 years operating John Windle Antiquarian Bookseller, longtime rare book dealer, John Windle, opened William Blake Gallery in October, 2016, within San Francisco’s historic 49 Geary building. The first physical space exclusively dedicated to Blake's work in over two hundred years, The William Blake Gallery houses hundreds of original Blake pieces alongside thousands of reproductions of the artist’s own writings and artwork.
About John Windle Antiquarian Bookseller
John Windle Antiquarian Bookseller offers an exceptional selection of rare books and manuscripts from medieval times through the twentieth century. Located in downtown San Francisco, the shop specializes in medieval illuminated and text manuscripts, illustrated books and fine bindings from the 15th through the 20th century, and children's books from 1750 to 1950. They have served an international clientele of private collectors, libraries, and institutions for over 40 years.
About William Blake the Artist
Widely considered to be one of the greatest contributors to the Western world of literature and art, William Blake’s lifetime of otherworldly work was motivated by mystic visions and spiritual revelations. Creating hundreds of artworks -- from engraved illustrations and illuminated books to original writings and watercolors -- his deeply unique style remains endlessly enigmatic and highly sought after. Favored by an eclectic groups of fans and collectors, Blake remains one of the only seminal Romantic artists whose work is still occasionally available to collect.