William Blake's Head

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This replica plaster cast life mask of William Blake (1757 - 1827) is signed by Deville and was found in the bedroom at Reece Mews. J.S. Deville, a sculptor and phrenologist, made the original cast of Blake, four years before the poet's death. The composer Gerard Schurmann set some of Blake's poems to music and requested Bacon to design an image for the cover of his song cycle. He took Bacon to the National Portrait Gallery where he saw the mask and during the mid-1950s Bacon painted a series of paintings based on photographs of this mask, five of which survive. Three versions of this life mask are held by public collections in England. It is not known when Bacon acquired this life mask.