The Ancient of Days (1794) by William Blake

The Ancient of Days - William Blake - 1794

All Artwork Images

Artwork Information

TitleThe Ancient of Days
ArtistWilliam Blake
Mediumetching,pen,ink,Watercolor on Paper
Dimensions23.3 x 16.8 cm
Art MovementSymbolism
Current LocationPrivate Collection

About The Ancient of Days

“The Ancient of Days” is a masterful artwork by William Blake, completed in 1794. Utilizing the mediums of etching, pen, ink, and watercolor on paper, Blake brings forth a piece deeply rooted in the Symbolism movement. The artwork measures 23.3 x 16.8 cm and is classified as an illustration. Originally conceived as a frontispiece for his book “Europe a Prophecy,” it now resides in a private collection, withdrawn from the public gaze.

In the artwork, a solemn and majestic figure is depicted against a backdrop that invokes the timeless essence of the universe. A god-like being, often identified as Urizen, the personification of reason and law in Blake’s mythology, is seen extending one arm to measure or circumscribe with a compass. This central figure is characterized by muscularity and is presented in a posture that conveys power and focus. Blake encapsulates both the grandeur and the constraints of rationality through this powerful visual metaphor.

Radiant beams of light emanate from the circular backdrop, enveloping the scene in an otherworldly glow, further emphasizing the divine or mystical nature of the proceedings. The color palette is dominated by warm hues of yellow and brown, juxtaposed with the more somber tones of the surrounding clouds and shadows, creating a stark contrast that accentuates the figure’s preeminence. Blake’s finesse in blending the sharp lines of the etching with the fluidity of watercolors adds to the dynamic and dramatic nature of the composition.

This work, emblematic of Blake’s intricate and profound visual language, can be interpreted as a contemplation on the roles of divinity, creativity, and the boundaries of human understanding. It stands as a significant contribution to the art of the late 18th century and continues to captivate audiences with its layered symbolism and aesthetic intensity.

Other Artwork from William Blake

More Symbolism Artwork

Scroll to Top