William Blake (background)
Blake Williams is an English poet, artist, engraver, and visionary, and one of the most important figures of English Romanticism.Songs of Innocence was the first of his own poetic works that he illustrated, in his highly individual style which is ultimately based on Italian artists Michelangelo and Raphael. He tends to lean more on a romantic understanding of life experiences. Many of his writings express Blake's awareness of cruelty and injustice. Blake's father was a hosier, a disciple of the Swedish mystic Emanuel Swedenborg. Swedenborg prophesied that in 1757 would be the 'beginning of a new world', this was the year Blake was born. Blake was interested in writing at an early age and continued to invest his time and efforts into publishing his works. During his apprenticeship with the engraver James Basire, he was sent to draw Gothic monuments in old London churches. Later as an independent engraver he met the English sculptor John Flaxman and the English painter Fuseli. Blake conceived the idea of simultaneously engraving the texts and illustrations of his poems to derive a new style and tone to his work. In his later years of writing he began having followers, including the English painter Samuel Palmer and Henry Feseli, who eventually named themselves ‘the Ancients’. Passion, imagination, and his visionary spirituality are the most common centralized ideas of Blake's work.