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William Blake: Painting as Prayer

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William Blake: Painting as Prayer

On April 14, 1789, William Blake and his wife Catherine attended the First General Conference of the Swedenborgian New Jerusalem Church, held in London.  

We don’t know for sure when Blake became interested in Swedenborg, but scholars think it was around 1787, and their signing of the conference book for April 14-17 in 1789 is the first time we know he was interested in Swedenborgian ideas.  [Paley, p. 16]. 

Morton Paley, in A New Heaven is Begun: Blake and Swedenborgianism, states that:

In Blake’s works of the late 1780’s and early 1790’s, the effects of Swedenborg’s doctrines can only be described as pervasive...    Blake freely borrowed from Swedenborg’s system of correspondences, adapting it to the purposes of his own poetry. [p.18].

Between 1805 and 1810, Blake received a commission to create over 100 water color paintings that would illustrate books of the Bible.    Four of these paintings were inspired by The Great Red Dragon in Revelation.   As our focus this year is on art depicting messages from scripture, these works of Blake’s seem especially relevant for us to look at.

Read the entire message at: William Blake: Painting as Prayer


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