William Blake's Final Masterpiece Lights Up St Paul's Cathedral This Week

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William Blake's Final Masterpiece Lights Up St Paul's Cathedral This Week
William Blake’s The Ancient of Days 1827 (Whitworth, University of Manchester) projected by Tate Britain onto St Paul’s Cathedral Photo: © Tate (Alex Wojcik)

The dramatic dome of St Paul's Cathedral is a masterpiece in and of itself, but this week it becomes a canvas for another great work of art: Ancient of Days by William Blake.

Described by its creator as "the best I have ever finished", the illustration depicts Urizen, a deity dreamt up by Blake himself, setting a compass to Earth. From Thursday 28 November — which would have been Blake's 262nd birthday — to Sunday 1 December, this small yet arresting image is recreated on a monumental scale, projected onto one of London's most iconic landmarks.

The illumination is the stunning result of a collaboration between Tate Britain, which is currently staging a "the UK’s largest survey of works by Blake for a generation", and St Paul's Cathedral, which is home to the most-visited Blake memorial in the UK. It's a particularly poignant tribute because, as The Guardian notes, the artist always aspired to having his work displayed in grand churches and palaces — an ambition that remained unfulfilled during his lifetime.

Ancient of Days lights up St Paul's Cathedral from Thursday 28 November to Sunday 1 December, 4.30pm-9.30pm.

Last Updated 28 November 2019