William Blake: Poet, Artist, Visionary...Idiot?

By Londonist Last edited 116 months ago
William Blake: Poet, Artist, Visionary...Idiot?


William Blake (1757-1827) was hardly appreciated in his own time. In fact, in 1809 he had to finance his only exhibition at his brother’s hosiery shop in Golden Square. The hanging's only review describes Blake as having 'a distempered brain', labeling him 'an unfortunate idiot'. Although Blake kept the show open for a year almost nobody came.

Two hundred years on and the Tate Britain has gathered the 10 remaining paintings from the original 16, recreating one of London’s greatest art flops of all time. The collection contains paintings from his contemporaries to contrast, seemingly, the tempered and the distempered creative brains of the time, and 6 blank rectangles to represent the missing pieces.

The exhibition runs until the 4th of October, offering modern Londoners a chance to see what the Georgian Londoners missed! Entrance is free.

By Michael Turoa

Last Updated 14 May 2009