Blake – magnificent
One of the factors I previously identified as causes of the failure of British narrative painting was lack of formal academic training, which was rectified with the formation of the Royal Academy Schools in London in 1769, when they had their first intake of 77 pupils. A decade later, they enrolled one of their most famous artists, William Blake (1757–1827).
Blake had been born in what is now Broadwick Street, Soho, London, and started as a pupil at a drawing school in The Strand in 1767 or 1768. In 1772, as Hogarth did fifty years before, he started a seven-year apprenticeship with James Basire as an engraver. Basire was a traditional line engraver on copper, and Blake would have gained a sound and practical understanding of that craft. Among the tasks which he undertook was to make copies of the royal tombs in Westminster Abbey for the Society of Antiquaries…
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