Frontispiece to Visions of the Daughters of Albion William Blake Buy Art Prints Now
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Tom Gurney BSc (Hons) is an art history expert with over 20 years experience
Published on June 19, 2020 / Updated on October 14, 2023
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Frontispiece to Visions of the Daughters of Albion is a colour painting done by William Blake in 1793. The picture appears on the front cover of his poems and illustrations published in the same year.

The Technique

The painting was a relief etching done in watercolours and ink on paper - the picture described as one of Blake's visionary works because of the topics he tackles. The image is of three nude figures; a man and a woman and a third figure whose gender is not apparent. In the foreground is a man bound on his feet with his hands behind his back. Blake created the artwork to represent the artist's convictions around repression, physical and religious slavery prevalent. The painting is indicative of the illustrations in the book that tackles the story of Oothon, Bromion, and Theotormon.

The Illustration

The frontispiece of Blake's book represents the story of Oothon, Bromion, and Theomorton. The artwork is a depiction of the Oothon who loves Theotormon. He binds Bromion and Oothon together as a punishment because of their sexual display, which is on the frontispiece plate. He looks like he is screaming in fear. The woman in the foreground is kneeling with her hands behind her back bound. Her face is shown on the side profile, and her hair hangs on the side of her head. The other figure is seated with crossed legs and hands with one hand over their head.

The figures are in light and darker shades of tan and brown to depict light and shadows. They look like they are at the mouth of a cave. In the background is dark clouds that surround a bright moon. The background uses dark shades of blue and some light yellow on the fringes of the clouds so that the painting depicts the night. The middle ground is of a water body. Above the mouth of the cave are hanging branches of a tree. The painting is dark, portraying that it is nighttime.

The Inspiration

William Blake created the artwork that used printing from etched plates with the images into relief artwork. The Frontispiece to Visions of the Daughters of Albion represents the illustration in the book by William Blake. Art scholars have speculated that Mary Wollstonecraft's, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, published in 1792. The painting depicts the three characters in the book. This frontispiece painting is not a part of the book but was separately printed in colours. The painting is in the art museum Tate Britain in London. The watercolour was bought from the National Gallery in 1919 using donations and a grant.