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Tate Britain’s New Blake Room


Morton D. Paley

During my visits to what is now called Tate Britain over a period of many years, I have encountered the art of William Blake presented in a number of ways. At first, in 1966, I found it on the main floor. I knew that it had previously been displayed in an octagonal room with mosaic floor designs (derived from The Marriage of Heaven and Hell) by Boris Anrep, but that was before my time. Later, a selection of Blake’s works was moved to a downstairs gallery that had been constructed for them. Not everyone was happy with this. “They moved Blake to the basement,” Sir Geoffrey Keynes said. Still later, a striking venue was constructed downstairs: a darkened, air-conditioned room with illuminated display cases. I thought of it as the Aquarium, because the Blakes seemed like tropical fish on display there. That lasted for about ten years. Then Blake was upstairs again until, on 14 May 2013, a new exhibition room was opened. Its location is conceived as part of the overall rehang that Tate Britain has named the “Walk through British Art.”


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