Promoting the superiority of line over color, Blake argues the sublime in art relies on the artist’s execution of the minute particulars in this world. Defined as the outward expression of the eternal individualities of all things, these details can only be expressed through line in the engraving process. Roberts notes Blake printed mostly monochromatic illuminated books and colored them later by hand, demonstrating the artist’s emphasis on exact line rather than perfect color. Comparing the works of Le Brun and Rubens with Rafael, Blake labels the two colorists “contemptible,” instead elevating outline by stating, “All Forms are Perfect in the Poets Mind. but these are…from Imagination” (464). Although Reynolds and Blake both laud Ideal Beauty through form, Blake asserts knowledge of such beauty is born innately in man and expressed through imagination, undermining the need for a Royal Academy of artistic learning. Criticizing the use of art by Reynolds and King George III to reshape the image of Great Britain, Blake argues “Empire follows Art,” which rationalizes his decision to use art as a vehicle to visualize his prophecies (461). Because Blake believed nations conformed to art, he imbued his works with the precise forms of what he recognized as Ideal Beauty. Describing his own style as “unbroken lines, unbroken masses, and unbroken colours,” Blake approached art as a way to find form—both on the page and in the world—and keep it.

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