The William Blake Archive

UPDATE: 02/07/2018

The ARTSY Experience
A New Cataloging Standard of Excellence

I highly recommend the innovative and engaging resource at Artsy.net — hosted by Art.sy, Inc. According to its founder Carter Cleveland, the goal was intended “to be the place where every single user in the world goes to discover art online.” Now hosting a tremendous collection of William Blake material.

William Blake at Artsy.net – A Usable Interface!

William Blake at Artsy.net – A Usable Interface!

After more than eight years in development, Artsy currently features over 800,000 works and 70,000 artists on its site, and more than half are for sale. Artsy partners directly with the world’s top galleries, museums, art fairs, and auction houses, providing collectors and enthusiasts a central resource to learn about and purchase artwork from anywhere in the world.

Artsy is powered by The Art Genome Project — “an ongoing study of the characteristics that distinguish and connect works of art.” A collaboration between art historians and engineers, The Art Genome Project draws upon art-historical scholarship and artificial intelligence to assign values to artwork based on over 1211 characteristics or “genes.” The Art Genome Project aims to help users uncover works of art based on personal taste and preference to facilitate education and discovery of art. [Wikipedia]

The William Blake page is fully developed, and growing. The Artsy interface provides visitors with Blake’s biography, over 160 of his works (most are held by the National Gallery of Art, in Washington D.C.), exclusive articles, and up-to-date Blake exhibition listings. The page also includes Art Genome Project links to related artists and categories, allowing viewers to discover many art treasures beyond Blake.

The interface is very detailed and accessible, including a breakdown of Medium, Time Period, Gallery, and Institution holdings.

https://www.artsy.net/artist/william-blake

The William Blake Archive

After a recent design make-over disaster, The William Blake Archive is nevertheless a beautiful example of digital preservation for the academic community.

The Pastorals of Virgil, copy 1, object 12 (Bentley 504.26) "Caius Julius Cæsar"
The interface is ‘strictly academic,’ or should I say, designed strictly for the serious academic researcher. Sadly, students on-the-go in the 21st century will be far less likely to take the time required to discover its many delightful images, and connect with its superb text descriptions. The help file is helpful, but daunting to say the least.

Updated regularly — as recently as January 2011 — the Editors are serious about adding content as often as possible (six to eight times a year). Key features include: Image Enlargement; incredibly well documented Copy Information for each object; Illustration Descriptions; Textual Transcripts; and Editors’ Notes, where warranted.

All features require popup windows, and the Inote Annotation Viewer requires Java, so the Archive can be somewhat tricky to navigate for all but the most determined. Any true scholar, or passionate fan of Blake and his work will undoubtedly gain new insight to the man, his life and work, and valuable resources for further study. Pack a lunch and visit The Archive! My favorite exhibit so far is this collection of plates from John Gabriel Stedman, Narrative, of a Five Years’ Expedition, against the Revolted Negroes of Surinam, which features sixteen remarkable (and potentially contentious) engravings — both in black, and hand-tinted colour versions.

Speaking of William Blake

Archival Digital Preservation Services is pleased to present reproductions of two very interesting examples of Blake’s early work, when he was a very young man, apprenticed as a commercial engraver.

  1. Scene from the Beggar’s Opera
  2. Pastoral Depiction of Rural Life

For enquiries, please email val@archival.ca.