The Ancient of Days is a print done by William Blake back in the year 1794. It was used as the front cover of Blake's book, Europe, a Prophecy. It depicts Urizen's god-like character, which reveals Blake's mythology element in his works.
The painting shows Urizon bending and doing some measurements on the universe. This particular title, the ancient of days, is inspired by the bible scriptures from the book of Daniel that describes the whole situation of God overseeing the world and all that is in it. Blake took his time in painting this particular art through his common techniques like using watercolour through his hands on the printed materials or opaque pigments. He embraced the use of ink, piece of paper, chalks in oil and copper plate. He finalized his work by pressing the paper against the dump paint to get the outcome. In his paintings, he embraced romanticism and mythology to pass his message to his desired audience.
His inspiration for this art originated from the scientist's view of the world. He tried to depict and challenge the fact that most things could be investigated, categorized, explained, and measured from the scientific point of view. This explains the presence of a pair of dividers in the painting. Also, basing this on the sovereign point of view, Urizen’s position showcases God's ability to promote order in the imperfect universe regardless of the people's ways of life. Presently, it is located in the British Museum.
Furthermore, his spiritual angle is majorly drawn from Dante Alighieri and John Milton's works, and he applies it throughout his work. He had oppositional notions that were not accepted by many. However, amid his form of art, some people found inspiration in his style. For instance, Gustave Courbet and Édouard Manet, who were painters in the 19th century, developed the courage to challenge different academic paradigms.
Their arguments were based on Blake's original notion that imagination cannot be limited or measured because it has no boundaries. According to Blake, imagination depends on the extent and notion of the people in question, and hence the human imagination would extend beyond the set standards in the human environment. Markedly, the ancient of days summarizes the issues attached to Blake's spiritualism. Even though it was among the last paints before his death, he liked it most. Also, even though it was not widely accepted during his life, the ancient of days painting stands out in the current environment as it has been embraced by many.
Tom Gurney in an art history expert. He received a BSc (Hons) degree from Salford University, UK, and has also studied famous artists and art movements for over 20 years. Tom has also published a number of books related to art history and continues to contribute to a number of different art websites. You can read more on Tom Gurney here.