December 17, 2008 / 4:34 PM / 10 years ago

Tate gallery to recreate Blake show 200 years on

LONDON (Reuters Life!) - Britain’s Tate gallery will recreate the only solo exhibition staged by poet, printmaker and artist William Blake 200 years after it was held in London.

The 1809 show, held in Blake’s brother’s shop in Soho, was a flop, drawing a single, stinging review and largely ignored by the public.

According to Tate Britain, the failure led the artist to withdraw more fully from society and become even more embittered about the state of British art.

Combining works by Blake from its own collection and other museums and galleries around the country, the Tate will reunite nine of the original 16 works that made up the 1809 show.

Underlining how Blake struggled for recognition during his own lifetime, the sole review of the show by Robert Hunt in The Examiner said:

“... the poor man fancies himself a great master, and has painted a few wretched pictures, some of which are unintelligible allegory, others an attempt at sober character by caricature representation and the whole blotted and blurred and very badly drawn.

“These he calls an Exhibition, of which he has published a Catalog, or rather a farrago of nonsense, unintelligibleness, and egregious vanity, the wild effusions of a distempered brain.”

Blake, who lived from 1757 to 1827, is now considered one of the key figures of the Romantic movement both for his painting and poetry. The exhibition, part of the BP British Art Displays, will be held at the Tate Britain gallery from April 20 to October 4, 2009. Entrance will be free.

(Reporting by Mike Collett-White, editing by Paul Casciato)

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