13 mars 2014: Gravures de William Blake

Affiche Blake

Michael Phillips à Poitiers le 13 mars 2014

CONFÉRENCE (10h, UFR Lettres et Langues)

– “Printing in the Infernal Method”
William Blake’s method of “illuminated printing”

– In 1788 William Blake invented a method of relief etching that he called ‘illuminated printing’. This made it possible to print both the text of his poems and the images that he created to illustrate them from the same copper plate in an engraver’s rolling press. The lecture will explain Blake’s invention in the context of conventional eighteenth-century illustrated book production, its metaphorical significance for Blake, the creation of the first illuminated books, like the Songs of Innocence, and how the further development of colour-printing his images led to the production of the Large Colour Prints or monotypes of 1795, Blake’s supreme achievement as a graphic artist.

DÉMONSTRATION DE GRAVURES (14h, Beaux Arts, Buxerolles)

– William Blake printmaking demonstration.

– Blake’s revolutionary method of illustrated book production, that he called ‘illuminated printing’, made it possible to print both the text of his poems and the images that he created to illustrate them from the same relief-etched copper plate in an engraver’s copper-plate rolling press. Having re-created examples of the relief-etched copper plates of Blake illuminated books using 1:1 negatives of original monochrome impressions, the demonstration will consist of mixing examples of the coloured inks that Blake used from historic pigments, inking the plates using a leather-covered dauber (rollers had not been invented), and then printing the plates in a copper plate rolling press. Students will then be encouraged to ink and print there own examples from a selection of relief-etched copper plates of the Songs of Innocence and of Experience.

– The demonstration can include a brief illustrated power-point lecture on Blake’s method of ‘illuminated printing’ in relation to traditional eighteenth-century illustrated book production (20-25 minutes), or it may be preceded by the lecture described below, ‘printing in the infernal method’. The demonstration itself normally takes about 2 hours.


– Michael Phillips taught at Oxford, University College London and Edinburgh University before joining the interdisciplinary Centre for Eighteenth Century Studies at the University of York where he offered a post-graduate MA in English and History of Art entitled William Blake and the Age of Revolution. https://www.york.ac.uk/eighteenth-century-studies/our-staff/michaelphillips/
He is now an Honorary Fellow of the Centre.

– In 2000 he was guest curator of the major Blake exhibition at Tate Britain subsequently shown at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. More recently he was guest curator of the first major exhibition of Blake in France, opening in Paris at the Petit Palais 1 April to 28 June 2009, for which he also edited the catalogue, William Blake (1757-1827) Le Génie Visionnaire de Romantisme Anglais. He is currently curating a major exhibition of Blake, Palmer, Richmond and Calvert that will open in the new galleries of the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, in December 2014, entitled ‘William Blake, Apprentice & Master’, where Blake’s printmaking studio at No. 13 Hercules Buildings, Lambeth, with be reconstructed to scale. Most recently, his edition in facsimile of Blake’s The Marriage of Heaven and Hell has been published by the Bodleian Library and the University of Chicago Press. He is also writing a biography of Blake in Lambeth during the anti-Jacobin Terror in Britain, entitled ‘Blake and the Terror’.

– Michael’s training as a printmaker has enabled him to explore and replicate Blake’s graphic techniques used in producing the illuminated books and separate prints. This research together with his study of Blake’s manuscripts is called upon in William Blake, The Creation of the Songs from Manuscript to Illuminated Printing (British Library and Princeton University Press, 2000). Examples of the relief-etched copper plates of Blake’s illuminated books that he has re-created, and impressions printed from them, may be seen at: http://williamblakeprints.co.uk/


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