William Blake's vision of the Almighty in Ancient of Days combines his ideas and interests in a highly individual way. For Blake, this figure joins the concept of the creator with that of Wisdom as a part of God. The Ancient of Days, printed as a frontispiece for Blake's book, Europe A Prophesy, was published with a quote:
    "When he set a compass upon the face of the deep."
Based upon the Book of Proverbs (8:22-23, 27-30) in the Old Testament of the Bible. Most of that chapter is spoken by Wisdom, identified as female, who tells the reader how she was with the Lord through all the time of the Creation:
    The Lord possessed me in the beginning of his way,
    before his works of old. I was set up from the everlasting,
    from the beginning, or ever the earth was...
    When he prepared the heavens, I was there;
    when he set a compass upon the face of the deep;
    When he established the clouds above: when he
    strengthened the fountains of the deep; When he
    gave to the sea his decree, that the waters should not
    pass his commandment; when he appointed the
    foundations of the earth; Then I was by him, I as one
    brought up with him; and I was daily his delight,
    rejoicing always before him.
Energy fills this composition. The Ancient of Days leans forward from a fiery orb, peering toward earth and unleashing power through his outstretched left arm into twin rays of light, which emerge between his spread fingers like an architect's measuring instrument. A mighty wind surges through his thick hair and beard. Only the strength of his Michelangelesque physique keeps him firmly planted within his heavenly perch. Here. Baroque vigor and ideal Classical anatomy merge the inner dark dreams of Romanticism, which is seen often in nineteenth century art. In his independence and individuality of his artistic vision, Blake was very much a man of the modern age.

The world of dreams and visions provided wonderful sublime materials for artists who yearned to escape the rules of reason. Blake wrote: "I will not reason and compare, my business is to create...the road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom." Yet, grave risks imperiled such an approach. Raw feeling could lead the soul astray, perhaps beyond the limits of sanity.

Bibliography

Justus, Kevin. "Art and Culture II." Tucson, Arizona.
1992. (Lecture presented at Pima Community College.)

De La Croix, Horst, Richard D. Tansey, and Diane Kirkpatrick.
Art Through the Ages. University of Michigan: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich.
1991.

You may view an image of this work at

Mark Harden's Artchive:
http://www.artchive.com/artchive/B/blake/ancient.jpg.html

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