Michael Kuczynski to lecture on Blake’s illustration of Chaucer

The George Jack Lecture at St Andrew’s University on March 6 will discuss Blake’s fresco of Chaucer’s Canterbury Pilgrims.

Professor Michael Kuczynski will present this year’s George Jack Lecture at the University of St Andrews, “Blake’s Pilgrimage”.

In 1809, the visionary writer and artist William Blake exhibited a fresco painting (as he called it) of Chaucer's pilgrims from the Canterbury Tales. Blake also wrote, to accompany the exhibition, a Descriptive Catalogue that details his idiosyncratic but compelling interpretations of the pilgrims and his profound understanding of Chaucer's poetic vision.

Much has been written, from an art-historical perspective, about this painting, Blake's description of it, and an engraving of the work that he made and offered for sale in 1810. In this talk, Professor Michael Kuczynski will present new information about the medieval and post-medieval sources for some of Blake's imagery; the relationship between his painting and a similar one completed by a rival artist, Thomas Stothard, around the same time; and Blake's identification of his own spiritual struggles and journey with Chaucer's, as he understood them from reading and depicting The Canterbury Tales.

Michael P Kuczynski is Pierce Butler Chair and Professor of English at Tulane University School of Liberal Arts, New Orleans, Louisiana. The event takes place at the Kennedy Hall, Lawson Room, 4 to 6.30 PM, and tickets are available from the St Andrews web site.