Francois Marie Arouet de Voltaire

William Blake, 1757 - 1827

Francois Marie Arouet de Voltaire

William Blake 1757 - 1827


Three quarter left side head and neck portrait of French writer and philosopher, Francois Voltaire, surrounded by wreath of honeysuckle, convolvulus, pimpernel, tulips and other plants. There is a figure of the Maid of Orleans with her arm raised to the left, and a group of armed knights to the right. The bust of Voltaire contains no colour, but the wreath surrounding him contains light colour detailing. The characters depicted to the left and right contain some minimal colour detailing.

Display Label

Everything’s Inevitable Works from the collection of Manchester Art Gallery selected by Des Hughes 1 May 2012 – 2013 Manchester Art Gallery has invited sculptor Des Hughes to make a selection of works from our collection to show alongside a framed assemblage piece, In a Brown Study 2011 which will be a new acquisition. Des Hughes lives and works in Kington, Herefordshire. His Do You Think of Me Often is also a recent addition to the Whitworth Art Gallery collection. ‘When I first looked through the collection I planned to select works in a logical way by grouping work by certain themes that I had noticed. Because it is such a vast collection I was overwhelmed, a pleasurable experience in itself, but the idea of 'selecting ' works involves making sense, using a system. To search the collection thoroughly I felt that every work should have a fair audition based on this system. 'Beards', 'hair', 'holes', 'abstract sculpture in paintings made before abstract sculpture was invented' were just some of the themes that seemed to suggest themselves. By grouping works small and probably irrelevant details might connect random and distant painting and sculpture and become important, and in doing so reveal something to myself and others how I might use them in my sculpture. But every time I went through the collection completely different exhibitions would surface and particular works would keep distracting me from these schemes. I noticed that it was exactly the way in which I would view exhibitions, and in fact the way I view everything, scrolling through until a single anecdotal element lights up. Whatever and whenever it is, it suddenly feels vital and current and needs to be made. It connects with past works or particular material or technique, image or gesture and somehow becomes 'inevitable'. An element of every painting, sculpture and particularly the modest items of decorative arts in this selection has become a part of this raw material of future works. ‘ Des Hughes

Object Name

Francois Marie Arouet de Voltaire

Creators Name

William Blake

Date Created



object (object: 41.9cm (16 1/2in)): 41.9cm x 70.6cm
framed: 50.9cm x 79.2cm

accession number


Place of creation







© Manchester Art Gallery

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