William Blake's Room

Frederic James Shields, 1833 - 1911

William Blake's Room

Frederic James Shields 1833 - 1911


A bedroom interior, with a bed in the foreground to the left, and small table and chair to the right, and a picture hanging above. There is an open window in the background inviting bright sunlight across the bare wooden floor, and red flowering pot plants are on the sill. A ghostly mist rises from bed, in the form of three figures with outstretched arms.

Display Label

Absent Presence 19 June 2015 – 3 January 2016 Manchester Art Gallery recently acquired Exposed Painting Green Lake, 2012, by contemporary artist Callum Innes. This new display of works from our collection takes its inspiration from this painting. It looks at how art captures a moment in time and asks how a subject can be present in an artwork, yet absent at the same time. Innes created this Exposed Painting by a process of ‘unpainting’: brushing off the top layer of black paint to reveal the deep green colour underneath, leaving traces of brushstrokes behind. In this way, he both removes the image and leaves its presence visible. The paintings in this gallery all require a similar heightened level of looking, a searching for traces of the absent. The artists are often playing with the concept of time, adding presences from the past into scenes of the present. A literal example is this Victorian family photograph. The image of the boy has been inserted after his death to show that for his family, he remains forever present. When the subject is absent, we try to find the missing presence in what remains.

Object Name

William Blake's Room

Creators Name

Frederic James Shields

Date Created



unframed: 30.5cm x 39.5cm
framed: 48.6cm x 57.9cm

accession number


Place of creation





oil paint


Leicester Collier Bequest


© Manchester Art Gallery

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