Paintings of the Week

It’s often said that genius is closely allied to madness – which is a great excuse for creative types to behave badly. But last’s week Paintings of the Week feature showed what amazing works can emanate from the mind of a truly mad man – the lunatic and sexual molester Adolf Wolfi.

(For last week’s feature – go left across this page to Categories and click Paintings of the Week. It’s there!)

The artist William Blake was also, in his lifetime, considered to be mad. He had visions of angels and other strange creatures all his life, and held heretical views about religion that shocked his contemporaries; though to my mind many of Blake’s religious ideas are no madder than the non-heretical versions.

Blake features in Alan Moore’s graphic novel From Hell, where he is seen having one of his visions just as – well, I shan’t give away the story.

William Wordsworth wrote of Blake: ‘There was no doubt that this poor man was mad, but there is something in the madness of this man which interests me more than the sanity of Lord Byron and Walter Scott.’

Blake was a poet (he wrotes the verses ‘And did these feet in ancient time’ which are now immortalised in the anthem Jersusalem), draughtsman, painter and book illustrator. His techniques for book illustration were revolutionary at the time – blending words and images on a single plate. And many of his greatest images are illustrations of the Book of Job and other Biblical texts.

Lose yourself for a while in a madness that is richer than most sanities:

Beatrice Addressing Dante (illustration for Dante's Inferno)

Marriage of Heaven and Hell

Joseph of Arimathea among the Rocks of Albion



Great Red Dragon and the Woman Clothed in Sun

Plate 7 of the Book of Urizen (a deity invented by Blake)

Plate 9 of the Book of Urizen

The Ancient of Days

The Blasphemer aka the Writer Who Has Annoyed His Publisher

Jacob's Ladder

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