The Whitworth : 'Europe' Plate i: Frontispiece, 'The Ancient of Days'
<p style='text-align: justify;'>This watercolour, by William Blake, known as the Ancient of Days was based on the frontispiece to his poem Europe, which he printed in 1794. Blake hand coloured several versions of the etching and this version is thought to be the last that Blake worked on. In fact, according to an early commentator, J.T. Nollekens, he coloured this impression "when bolstered-up in his bed only a few days before he died." The cosmic figure at the centre of this image is Urizen, Blake's embodiment of joyless oppression and the stifler of unfettered creativity. He appears 'like a meteor' from a burning orb, creating divisions and enforcing his unchangeable laws. </p>