Art: Painters of the Abyss

Two elegant portraitists, Reynolds and Gainsborough, ruled the calm and decorous art world of 18th Century London. But there was also an opposition, most notably represented by young, deeply religious William Blake with his alternately angelic and demonic visions. Others in the opposition ducked the angels; they preferred the Pit.

In London's Architectural Review, British Scholar Geoffrey Grigson sets out to make a case for three such painters, all born in 1741: Henry Fuseli, John Henry Mortimer, and James Barry. "They share," Grigson says, "in the sense of turmoil, of the black and red river, of the black and cavernous and jagged...

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