William Blake was a British poet, painter and printmaker. He was also a maverick, rebelling against authority in all its forms. This is clear from poems such as The Tyger and Jerusalem, as well as from his art, where he operated entirely outside the mainstream.
He hated oils - the paints used by most artists - and he devised his own personal mythology to illustrate his mystical view of the universe. At the time, the art world regarded him as eccentric, perhaps even mad, but his reputation has grown enormously since his death.
Blake grew up and worked in London. From an early age, he was deeply religious, though his beliefs were highly unconventional. He claimed to have visions, in which he communicated with the spirits of angels and his dead brother. The visions produced a number of pictures, including the whimsical Ghost Of A Flea. For much of his life he was an isolated figure, struggling to find buyers for his pictures. Towards the end, though, he inspired a group of artists known as the Ancients.
Blake is most famous for imaginary scenes such as The Dance Of Albion and startlingly original versions of religious subjects, such as God Creating The Universe and Nebuchadnezzar.