Show me:
and
Clear all filters

  • 35 items
  • 25 items Explore
  • 48 items
  • 89 items
  • 3,452 items Explore
  • 97 items Explore
  • 4 items
  • 41 items
  • 11,371 items Explore
  • 209 items Explore
  • 1,235 items Explore
  • 8,497 items Explore
  • 5,045 items Explore
  • 72 items Explore
  • 167 items Explore
  • 11,070 items Explore
  • 13,625 items Explore
  • 4,639 items Explore
  • 1 items
  • 5 items
  • 153 items Explore
  • 2,084 items Explore
  • 2 items
  • 4,754 items Explore
  • 24 items Explore
  • 437 items Explore
  • 1 items
  • 19,209 items Explore
  • 34 items Explore
  • 1,028 items Explore
  • 1,113 items Explore
  • 6 items
  • 2,391 items Explore
  • 449 items Explore
  • 29 items
  • 920 items Explore
  • 1 items
  • 1 items Explore
  • 5 items
  • 7 items
  • 19,819 items Explore
  • 800 items Explore
  • 19 items
  • 73 items Explore
  • 33 items
  • 800 items
  • 25 items
  • 61 items
  • 28 items
  • 319 items Explore
  • 6 items
  • 44 items Explore
  • 1 items
  • 2 items
  • 146 items
  • 2 items
  • 7 items
  • 119 items Explore
  • 119 items
  • 1 items
  • 1,021 items Explore
  • 1 items
  • 803 items
  • 95 items
  • 27 items
  • 108 items
  • 29,480 items Explore
  • 1 items
  • 3,850 items Explore
  • 1,521 items Explore
  • 403 items
  • 158 items Explore
  • 9,980 items Explore
  • 9,670 items Explore
  • 4 items
  • 1 items
  • 39 items
  • 3 items
  • 4 items
  • 6,109 items Explore
  • 7,461 items Explore
  • 4,463 items Explore
  • 1,616 items Explore
  • 929 items Explore
  • 3,493 items Explore
  • 5 items
  • 334 items
  • 1 items
  • 1 items
  • 3,429 items Explore
  • 20 items Explore
  • 354 items Explore
  • 797 items Explore
  • 1,095 items Explore
  • 503 items Explore
  • 1,047 items Explore
  • 1,123 items
  • 89 items
  • 124 items Explore
  • 6,952 items Explore
  • 170 items
  • 310 items
  • 4 items
  • 20 items
  • 61 items
  • 304 items Explore
  • 2 items
  • 2,921 items Explore
  • 1,575 items Explore
  • 203 items
  • 43 items
  • 19,421 items Explore
  • 1,244 items Explore
  • 138 items
  • 843 items Explore
  • 32 items
  • 1 items
  • 132 items Explore
  • 24 items
  • 40 items
  • 20 items
  • 252 items
  • 314 items
  • 743 items Explore
  • 1,893 items
  • 349 items Explore
  • 2,425 items
  • 2,525 items
  • 3 items
  • 3 items
  • 4,390 items Explore
  • 2 items
  • 37,933 items Explore
  • 1 items
  • 3,289 items Explore
  • 275 items Explore
  • 8,067 items Explore
  • 31 items
  • 25 items
  • 770 items Explore
  • 3 items
  • 65 items
  • 161 items
  • 52 items
  • 21,766 items Explore
  • 917 items
  • 18 items
  • 22,449 items Explore
  • 2 items
  • 2,337 items Explore
  • 1 items
  • 1,030 items Explore
  • 4 items
  • 59 items
  • 499 items
  • 3,289 items Explore
  • 175 items
  • 453 items Explore
  • 3 items
  • 21 items
  • 90 items Explore
  • 76 items
  • 281 items Explore
  • 1 items
  • 6 items
  • 128 items
  • 294 items
  • 734 items
  • 868 items
  • 1 items
  • 895 items Explore
  • 272 items Explore
  • 11,300 items Explore
  • 760 items Explore
  • 6,050 items Explore
  • 11 items
  • 7,589 items Explore
  • 27 items
  • 5,358 items Explore
  • 4 items
  • 3,731 items Explore
  • 9,199 items Explore
  • 7,747 items Explore
  • 200 items
  • 19 items
  • 142 items
  • 7 items
  • 869 items Explore
  • 19 items
  • 4,151 items Explore
  • 4 items
  • 1,096 items Explore
  • 223 items
  • 1 items
  • 3,553 items Explore
  • 20 items
  • 696 items Explore
  • 18 items
  • 134 items
  • 6,729 items Explore
  • 15,815 items Explore
  • 3,130 items Explore
  • 1 items
  • 8 items
  • 9,323 items Explore
  • 37 items
  • 2 items
  • 21,319 items Explore
  • 129 items
  • 38 items
  • 13,167 items Explore
  • 3,398 items Explore
  • 2,137 items Explore
  • 44 items
  • 42,310 items Explore
  • 635 items Explore
  • 415 items
  • 1 items
  • 24,571 items Explore
  • 218 items
  • 3 items
  • 1 items
  • 20 items
  • 27 items
  • 325 items Explore
  • 4 items
  • 217 items Explore
  • 1 items
  • 2 items
  • 13,212 items Explore
  • 3 items
  • 10,261 items
  • 9 items
  • 10 items
  • 14 items
  • 25 items
  • 1 items
  • 4,529 items Explore
  • 918 items Explore
  • 1 items
  • 464 items
  • 1 items
  • 1 items
  • 220 items
  • 702 items Explore
  • 42 items
  • 2,284 items Explore
  • 1,662 items Explore
  • 15 items
  • 1,928 items Explore
  • 151 items
  • 84 items
  • 773 items Explore
  • 3,137 items Explore
  • 43 items
  • 17 items
  • 12 items
  • 10,682 items Explore
  • 23,102 items Explore
  • 1 items
  • 18 items
  • 1 items
  • 1,373 items
  • 180 items Explore
  • 8 items
  • 92 items
  • 13,332 items Explore
  • 3,574 items Explore
  • 2,667 items Explore
  • 4,776 items Explore
  • 22 items
  • 45 items
  • 6,899 items Explore
  • 4,772 items Explore
  • 272 items Explore
  • 2,300 items Explore
  • 2,980 items Explore
  • 3 items
  • 1,865 items Explore
  • 291 items
  • 223 items Explore
  • 470 items Explore
  • 6,120 items Explore
  • 8,810 items Explore
  • 1,859 items Explore
  • 5,793 items Explore
  • 3,339 items Explore
  • 11,064 items Explore
  • 86 items
  • 11 items
  • 1,675 items Explore
  • 7 items
  • 24 items
  • 51 items
  • 5 items
  • 1 items
  • 2,968 items Explore
  • 618 items Explore
  • 62 items
  • 17 items
  • 151 items Explore
  • 1 items
  • 87 items Explore
  • 1 items
  • 463 items
  • 2 items
  • 996 items Explore
  • 3,612 items Explore
  • 5 items
  • 9,405 items Explore
  • 48 items Explore
  • 3 items
  • 42 items
  • 3 items
  • 13,714 items Explore
  • 1 items
  • 1,169 items Explore
  • 92 items
  • 10,562 items Explore
  • 1,002 items Explore
  • 1,920 items
  • 7,563 items Explore
  • 21 items
  • 12,945 items Explore
  • 1,418 items Explore
  • 6 items
  • 9,576 items Explore
  • 16,401 items Explore
  • 4 items
  • 1,669 items Explore
  • 180 items
  • 58 items
  • 5,684 items Explore
  • 9,395 items Explore
  • 48 items
  • 25 items
  • 2 items
  • 59 items
  • 3 items
  • 7,394 items Explore
  • 402 items Explore
  • 13 items
  • 4 items
  • 6 items
  • 4 items
  • 103 items Explore
  • 7 items
  • 5 items
  • 480 items
  • 297 items Explore
  • 8,369 items Explore
  • 55 items
  • 22,506 items Explore
  • 1 items
  • 7,350 items Explore
  • 5 items
  • 26 items
  • 3,832 items Explore
  • 463 items
  • 339 items Explore
  • 12,692 items Explore
  • 55 items
  • 20 items
  • 7 items
  • 4 items
  • 315 items Explore
  • 434 items
  • 183 items
  • 3,688 items Explore
  • 27 items
  • 1,228 items Explore
  • 2,493 items Explore
  • 732 items Explore
  • 36 items
  • 1,135 items Explore
  • 97 items Explore
  • 41 items
  • 217 items Explore
  • 74,343 items Explore
  • 1 items
  • 3,065 items Explore
  • 2,847 items Explore
  • 236 items
  • 3,617 items Explore
  • 1,832 items Explore
  • 4 items
  • 17,341 items Explore
  • 5,508 items Explore
  • 7 items
  • 632 items Explore
  • 85 items
  • 20 items
  • 39 items
  • 76 items
  • 29 items
  • 177 items
  • 3 items
  • 41 items
  • 1,176 items Explore
  • 109 items
  • 805 items
  • 17 items
  • 11,194 items Explore
  • 27 items
  • 13 items
  • 1,548 items Explore
  • 1 items
  • 214 items
  • 17,022 items Explore
  • 85 items
  • 17 items
  • 1 items
  • 9 items
  • 8 items
  • 324 items
  • 2 items
  • 626 items Explore
  • 1,587 items Explore
  • 8 items
  • 1,034 items Explore
  • 2 items
  • 261 items

Select a time period

Or choose a specific year

Clear all filters

The Sea of Time and Space (Vision of the Circle of the Life of Man)

William Blake (London 1757 - London 1827)

Category

Art / Drawings and watercolours

Date

1821 (signed and dated)

Materials

Pen, ink, watercolour, gouache, gesso, paper

Measurements

478 (h) x 574 (w) x 27 (d) mm

Place of origin

London

Order this image

Collection

Arlington Court, Devon

NT 985730

Caption

This stormy scene, complete with nymphs and Naiads, a horse-drawn chariot and classical temple might depict Ithaca - the legendary home of Odysseus. This picture may have been purchased by John Chichester of Arlington directly from William Blake. At some point it was lost but was later rediscovered in a pile of 'junk … in a dusty heap on top of a wardrobe in the housemaid’s pantry' after Arlington had been left to the National Trust by Miss Rosalie Chichester in 1949.

Summary

Pen and black ink, watercolour and gouache on gesso ground on stiff paper, The Sea of Time and Space (Vision of the Circle of the Life of Man) by William Blake (London 1757 - London 1827), signed and dated, bottom left: W. Blake/ Inventor, 1821. This mainly monochrome imaginary scene with a multiple number of figures also uses a mixture of scale and perspective. It takes place besides a stormy sea, on the left. A grassy cliff face drops below behind the main figures, in the centre, to a classical temple. On the right a stone staircase extends upwards through a grove of trees. A male figure, dressed in red, is sitting, and almost kneeling, on a rock on top of the cliff beside the seashore. His hands are extended towards the waves to the left whilst he looks outwards with his head turned toward the viewer. A female figure, veiled from head to toe, is standing beside him in the centre with her left arm raised. To her left, in amongst the trees are seven females in long classical brown dresses spinning thread between them. Below in the foreground and in the water are four more figures with the yarn and spindle. On the right is a sleeping figure draped across an urn. On the upper right is another group of female figures holding water vessels on their heads. To their right extending across the sky to the left is another staircase emerging from the cloudy heavens with a figure in his horse-drawn chariot also attended by females. Below the chariot, and in the sea, in the left background, is a female, possibly a sea-nymph or Nereid, riding on her hippocampi (horses of the sea).

Full description

The title is a quotation from Blake's Prophetic Book Vala or the Four Zoas. The man has been variously described as Christ, Blake himself, Isaiah, or Odysseus. The female has been described as Blake's goddess of nature, Vala, or Athena or even Calypso. It seems as if the scene is of Ithaca, complete with a Greek temple, grove, nymphs and Naiads, described in Homer's Odyssey, Book XIII. On the right are the three Fates, Clotho, Lachesis and Atropos, who spin, measure, and cut the thread of life and determine the destiny of man. They are usually portrayed as old cronies but Blake's are young beautiful women with extra attendants. Apollo (representing Fire) sleeps beside his carriage with attendants on a cloud in the sky. It is likely that the female figure cleaving through the water on four horses is Venus (representing Water) with a cloud framing her in a similar fashion to her usual garland. It appears to be an expression of a rejection of the nature-bound religion of the classical world and is absent of Blake's usual Christian symbolism.

Provenance

Possibly bought by Colonel John Chichester of Arlington direct from the artist. At some later stage the drawing was lost. It was rediscovered in 1949 in a pile of “junk … in a dusty heap on top of a wardrobe in the housemaid’s pantry”, after Arlington had been left to the National Trust by Miss Rosalie Chichester (see James Lees-Milne, Midway on the Waves, 1985) in 1949. Whitehead relying on an account given to him fifty-six years later by Herbert Newman, a former retainer of Rosalie Chichester and later an employee of the National Trust, concluded that it might instead have been found in a bedroom in the – subsequently demolished – new north wing added by her father, which she had turned into her ‘Photographic Room’. Whitehead adopts, as a possible alternative provenance, J. E. M. Latham’s suggestion that the picture was purchased or commissioned by Sophia Catherine Ford, who married Colonel John Chichester, as his third wife, in 1822, or by her mother, Mary, Lady Ford, widow of Sir Francis Ford. John Linnell recorded in his diary entry for 8 May 1820 that he and Blake went to call on Lady Mary at her London house to see ‘her Pictures’; bequeathed to the National Trust with Arlington Court by Miss Rosalie Chichester (1865 – 1949)

Credit line

Arlington Court, The Chichester Collection (National Trust)

Marks and inscriptions

Verso: James Linnel framer/ 3 Streatham Street Bloomsbury/ One Door from Charlotte Street

Makers and roles

William Blake (London 1757 - London 1827), artist James Linnell (1759-1836), framer

Exhibition history

William Blake , Tate Britain, London, 2019 - 2020 Whatever the Weather, Royal Albert Memorial Museum, Exeter, 2015 - 2016

References

Keynes 1949 Geoffrey Keynes, 'A newly-discovered William Blake, Country Life, CVI, 1949, p. 1427 Keynes 1954, Geoffrey Keynes, ‘Blake’s vision of the Circle of the Life of Man’, in Studies in Art and Literature for Belle da Costa Greene, ed. Dorothy Miner, Princeton, 1954, pp.202–208 Wingfield Digby 1957 G. Wingfield Digby, Symbol and Image in William Blake, 1957, pp.54-82 Raine 1957, Kathleen Raine, ‘The Sea of Space and Time’, Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes, 20, 1957, pp.318–37 , (the title is a quotation from a letter from Blake to Butts, 10.1.1802 [c.f. Nonsuch Blake, p.855] Raine 1957 Review of Wingfield Digby’s book, reply from the author, and letter from K. Raine, in Times Literary Supplement, 27 December 1957, 24 & 31 January 1958 Raine 1959, K. Raine, Review, Philological Quarterly, XXXVIII, April 1959 Roe 1960 A.S. Roe, review of K. Raine’s article, Art Bulletin, XLII, 1960, pp.79–81 Keynes 1958, Geoffrey Keynes, Review Apollo, March 1958, p.94 Raine 1968, K. Raine, Blake and Tradition, 1968, I, pp.75–98 & figs. 23, 26 & 30; Keynes 1971 Geoffrey Keynes, 'The ArlingtonCourt Picture', Blake Studies: Essays on his Life and Work, second edition, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1971 Bindman 1977 David Bindman, Blake as an Artist, Oxford & New York 1977 , pp. 207ff. & pl.167 Damrosch 1980 L. Damrosch Jr., Symbol and Truth in Blake’s Myth, Princeton, 1980, p.119 Butlin 1981 Martin Butlin, The Paintings and Drawings of William Blake, New Haven & London, 1981, cat. no. 803 Heppner, 1996 Christopher Heppner, Reading Blake’s Designs, Cambridge, 1996, pp.235–77 Whitehead, 2007: Angus Whitehead, “The Arlington Court Picture: A surviving example of William Blake’s framing practice.” British Art Journal 8.1 2007: pp.30-33, art. cit., pp.30 and 32-33, nn.6 & 8 National Trust (Great Britain), Arlington Court., 1978, p. 9 National Trust (Great Britain), Arlington Court., 1985, p. 13 Simmons and Warner 1973 Robert Simmons and Janet Warner, 'Blake's Arlington Court Picture: The Moment of Truth,' in The Visionary Hand: Essays for the Study of William Blake's Art and Aesthetics, (ed.) Robert N. Essick, 1973

View more details