The Visionary Art of William Blake: Christianity, Romanticism and the Pictorial Imagination

Naomi Billingsley

Research output: Book/ReportBookpeer-review


This monograph examines why Blake equated Christianity with art, and more particularly, why he conceives of Christ as artist. The central argument is that Blake expresses this theology of art through his visual representations of Christ. It proposes that Christ is represented as the archetype for Blake’s vision of the artist-Christian; that is, that Blake thinks of Jesus’ life and ministry as analogous to the work of the artist in that he changes the way we perceive the world. This is a distinctively ‘Romantic’ vision of art, reflecting what is often characterised as a shift from a mimetic to an expressive aesthetic in the art of this period.

The analysis is developed through a series of detailed readings of depictions of Christ from throughout Blake’s career, representing key moments in the life of Christ. By situating each case study in relation to contemporaneous religious writings and artistic representations of similar subjects, the book presents a historically-grounded account of Blake’s art. Thus, in addition to its overall theoretical argument, the monograph proposes new readings of individual works, including identifying previously overlooked textual and pictorial sources for a number of works.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherI.B. Tauris
Number of pages246
ISBN (Print)9781784539832
Publication statusPublished - May 2018


  • William Blake
  • Romanticism
  • British Art
  • Christ

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • John Rylands Research Institute and Library


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