The Gallery holds the most extensive collection of portraits in the world. Search over 215,000 works, 150,000 of which are illustrated from the 16th Century to the present day.

Regency Portraits Catalogue

William Blake (1757-1827), Visionary poet and painter

The portraiture of Blake is fully dealt with and illustrated in David Bindman's William Blake: Catalogue of the Collection in the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, 1970 and in Sir Geoffrey Keynes's The Complete Portraiture of William and Catherine Blake, 1977. The following list is a chronological summary.

1780
Pen and wash drawing by Edward Burney in the Royal Academy; the figure of Blake as a student is conjectural.

c.1780-1
Etching by Stothard in British Museum, camping by the Medway.

c.1780
Pencil drawing by Thomas Stothard, formerly in Sidney Sabin collection.

c.1785
Pencil drawing by Catherine Blake in Fitzwilliam, probably done c.1828 from memories of Blake as a young man.

c.1804
Pencil drawings by Flaxman in Fitzwilliam and Paul Mellon Collection.

1807
Oil by Phillips (NPG 212 and versions).

1809
Oil by William Fraser exhibited RA 1809 (472) of 'W. Blake'.

before 1810
Pencil self-portrait in British Library Department of MSS, given through G. L. Keynes, 1956.

1810-20
Three pencil and watercolour drawings after Schiavonetti in Huntington Library and Pierpont Morgan Library.

c.1819
Pencil self-caricature as 'Cancer' in private collection, USA (Sir David Piper, The Image of the Poet, 1982, pp 114-15).

1820-5
Six pencil drawings by Linnell in Fitzwilliam (David Bindman, William Blake: Catalogue of the Collection in the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, 1970, pp 55-7).

c.1820
Pencil visionary self-portrait in Keynes collection.

1821
Miniature by Linnell in Fitzwilliam and 1861 copy, NPG 2146. A highly finished drawing in pencil and grey wash attributed to Linnell in private collection USA.

1823
Life-masks by Deville in Fitzwilliam and NPG 1809.

c.1825
Pencil drawing by George Richmond, whole-length standing with hat and stick, in Fitzwilliam Museum, where there are also two posthumous drawings done by Richmond from memory c. 1857-9 (Sir David Piper, The Image of the Poet, 1982, pp 114-15).

c.1826
Engraving by Linnell after John Varley of Blake as 'Cancer' in Varley's Zodiacal Physiognomy, 1828.

1827
Pencil drawing of Blake and Fuseli by George Richmond in Keynes collection.

William Blake on his death-bed, a tiny pencil drawing in John Linnell's Journal, 10 August 1827, Linnell family Trustees.

c.1830
Sepia wash and pencil drawing by Frederick Tatham of Blake in youth and age in Paul Mellon Collection; Tatham's drawing in British Museum, 'Head of an old Woman resembling William Blake' is inscribed 'This drawing was made from a Mrs Wilson who lived in a hut upon Epping Forest. I drew her because she was so like Blake - indeed this portrait of Mrs Wilson is much more like Blake than any hitherto published except that by Phillips ...' (Laurence Binyon, Catalogue of Drawings by British Artists … in the British Museum, IV, p 171).

Miscellaneous
Sir Geoffrey Keynes (op. cit.) also lists six untraced or spurious drawings, a small pencil drawing by W. J. Linton in his own collection and a group of drawings by Mrs Blake.

Sir Jacob Epstein's bronze bicentenary bust was unveiled in Westminster Abbey 24 November 1957.



This extended catalogue entry is from the out-of-print National Portrait Gallery collection catalogue: Richard Walker, Regency Portraits, National Portrait Gallery, 1985, and is as published then. For the most up-to-date details on individual Collection works, we recommend reading the information provided in the Search the Collection results on this website in parallel with this text.