Plate 2 of Urizen, Teach these Souls to Fly 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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This artwork was for William Blake's The Book of Urizen. It was completed, most probably, in 1796 at which point the artist would have been approaching his forties and looking for a maturity in his work.

A female figure found on the right hand side of this painting sweeps across the horizontal whilst reaching out to hold a young child. Behind them is a bright sky scene which is constructed from tones of red, blue and white. Enitharmon is the woman found here, a creation of the artist himself, and she is known to have symbolised Pity. The child is known as Orc and represents Revolt, which perhaps suggests that their interaction is more of a challenge to each other than we might first have noticed. The item itself is classed as an etching with ink and watercolour on paper and is particularly small, at just around 10cm in height and width. It is found within the Tate collection in the UK, an institution which perhaps holds the most artworks from this artist's career of any public institution though most can only be viewed upon appointment, perhaps due to the fragile nature of this medium and the negative impact that light has had on some of his other artworks.

Within this design, known as Plate Two of the overall series, we find the mother helping her son to fly, whilst under the threat of the father, Los, who has an envy towards his own son. Blake was a supremely gifted artist who was particularly impressive within the figurative portrait genre. He was also able to impart his own imagination into the content, creating scenes of mythology with his own artistic flourishes inserted alongside. The art world has also been filled with those who love these levels of imagination, and those who prefer more realism within their art. Religious themes had dominated western art for several centuries but there was now an interest in bringing in ideas from elsewhere as society started to become more open minded, challenging norms and also seeking answers to the world elsewhere.

The relief can be found in the Tate, based in the UK. The item was purchased directly back in 1922, and William Blake's work has been popular for many years. Initially, during his own lifetime, he was seen as a madman with extraordinary and bizarre ideas that were to be guarded against. His fellow artists understood his talents, though, and there were others who also saw the brilliance of this individual who succeeded as both an artist and poet. His highlights in the latter category included the likes of The Tyger and The Lamb. He would also produce illustrations to sit alongside his texts, essentially being a full publishing operation. Only he could understood the true meanings of his words, too, so his illustrations were entirely appropriate for each poem. He is now revered within the UK in both disciplines and it is hard to decide on which he is now more famous for. He is, simply put, William Blake and his career should be treated in its entirety.