On This Day in 1820: The Visionary Heads and William Blake’s attitude towards Death (Part II)

By Anna Mercer

Yesterday, we marked 200 years since William Blake drew ‘Pindar and Lais the Courtesan’ on 18 September 1820.

Today, Dr Sibylle Erle (Bishop Grosseteste University) continues her reflection on Blake’s Visionary Heads…

Portrait of William Blake (c.1802-03), Tate.

On This Day in 1820: The Visionary Heads and William Blake’s attitude towards Death

This Blog post has 2 parts. Click here to view part 1.

This blog discusses Blake’s Visionary Heads not as a spiritual phenomenon[1] but as an expression of continuing bonds and Blake’s attitude towards death. If we think of the drawing sessions not as séances but as contacts with the spiritual world, Blake’s vision about life after death will come into focus. While the early heads were created in a séance-like ambience, as noted by Bentley (2004 363, 366), the later ones are different. By 1820, the wild, mad and eccentric Blake had calmed down; his new-found serenity, according to Bentley, is reflected in the faces of the later Visionary Heads (2002, 184).[2]

Blake’s first biographer Benjamin Heath Malkin notes that Blake resented drawing from life and spoke of it ‘as looking more like death’ (quoted in Bentley 2004, 564). Many will agree that in Blake’s sketches …read more

Source:: http://www.bars.ac.uk/blog/?p=3260