Monday, 1 August 2016

Poets and Painters

Poets and Painters ...

We think of poets and painters seperately yet quite a few were multi-talented.  The two names of William Blake and Dante Gabriel Rossetti should resonate with you even if you cannot immediately place their work.  After the steam of the EU Referendum (aren't we all glad that is out the way?), I wanted to set out a stall on Britishness (note I didn't say Englishness) and our unique ability to absorb other cultures while still impressing the rest of the world with our own home-grown talent. 

William Blake (1757-1827) is probably most recognized for his words to the resounding song 'Jerusalem'.  We recognise it immediately:  'And did those feet in ancient times walk upon England's mountain green.'  Yet few actually realise he was a hugely respected artist and was at one point considered ' of the greatest artists Britain has ever produced.'  Blake started his career as an engraver and was apprenticed to James Basire of Great Queen Street in London.  Closely observing the Gothic work of many churches, I personally feel much of his artistic style was affected by the impressions he was working with.  Blake later went on to become an art student at The Royal Academy where interestingly he did not take to the work and style of Plymouth's home grown artist, Joshua Reynolds.  There was an interesting antagonism between them.

Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828-1882) was British born and the son of an Italian scholar.  He was born in London and although his friends called him Gabriel, he used his first name of Dante through preference.  He painted in oils using water colour brushes which drew a great curiosity from his artistic observers.  Nevertheless, aside from some unique paintings, his poetry has become classic in our tome of the very best.

In both men there is plenty for us to see - and see again. Both born in Britain yet one with links abroad and the other as British as a stick of rock. Note their work: There is a close correlation between painting and poetry.  The mind of the artist is relaxed through a brush; the mind of the poet drifts like a conduit through the pen.  Find and compare works by both Blake and Rossetti.  There are many differences but similarities too. 

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