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“Newton after Blake” by Eduardo Paolozzi

Newton after Blake by Eduardo Paolozzi

Newton after Blake” by Eduardo Paolozzi

“Newton” by Eduardo Paolozzi is a large bronze sculpture displayed on a high plinth in the piazza outside the British Library in London.

The sculpture is also known as “Newton after Blake,” as it is based on William Blake’s 1795 print of “Newton: Personification of Man Limited by Reason.”

Blake’s print depicts a naked Isaac Newton sitting on a rocky ledge beside a mossy rock face while measuring with a pair of compass dividers. Eduardo Paolozzi greatly admired Blake’s print of Newton.

The print was intended by Blake to criticize Newton’s profane knowledge, usurping the sacred knowledge and power of the creator, with the scientist turning away from nature to focus on his theories.

Newton after Blake by Eduardo Paolozzi

Newton by William Blake, 1795, color print with pen & ink and watercolor – Tate Britain.

The sculpture includes Paolozzi’s self-portrait as the naked Newton, measuring the universe with his dividers. The eyes were copied from Michelangelo’s David.

The sculpture symbolizes a merging of the arts and the sciences and illustrating how Newton changed our view of the world to one determined by mathematical laws.

The sculpture shows the body resembling a mechanical object, joined with bolts at the shoulders, elbows, knees, and ankles.

The sculpture explicitly makes visible the seams of the sculptors’ technique of dividing his model and reassembling the pieces.

Newton after Blake by Eduardo Paolozzi

“Master of the Universe” by Eduardo Paolozzi – Scottish National Gallery Of Modern Art in Edinburgh, 1989

The architect of the new British Library, which was constructed from 1982 to 1999, planned for a sculpture at the junction of the two main axes in the piazza of the library.

Paolozzi was already working on a sculpture of Newton and was commissioned to create the statue for the library, which was installed in 1995.

A similar sculpture, “Master of the Universe,” from 1989, is at the Scottish National Gallery Of Modern Art in Edinburgh, with another example that can be found in Kowloon Park, Hong Kong.

Several “Newton after Blake” by Eduardo Paolozzi sculptures are exhibited around the world:

  • Largest version  – British Library
  • “Master of the Universe” – National Galleries of Scotland, in Edinburgh
  • “Newton’s Idea” – Kowloon Park, Hong Kong
  • Maquette version- Isaac Newton Institute for Mathematical Sciences at the University of Cambridge
  • Bronze model cast in 1988, specifically created for the Library committee – Tate Gallery

Newton after Blake by Eduardo Paolozzi

“Newton’s Idea” by Eduardo Paolozzi – Kowloon Park, Hong Kong

Eduardo Paolozzi

Eduardo Paolozzi (1924 – 2005) was a  sculptor and artist who is considered to be one of the pioneers of pop art.

Eduardo Paolozzi was born in Scotland, the eldest son of Italian immigrants. In 1940, during World War II, Paolozzi was interned along with most other Italian men in Britain.

His father, grandfather, and uncle, who had also been detained, were among the 446 Italians who drowned when the ship carrying them to Canada, was sunk by a German U-boat.

Paolozzi first studied at the Edinburgh College of Art in 1943 and then worked in Paris. While in Paris from 1947 to 1949, Paolozzi became acquainted and was influenced by the Surrealists.

His sculptures made in the mid-1950s with surfaces, studded with found objects and machine parts, first gained him recognition. 

Later in life, he received many awards and honors and was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 1989 as Knight Bachelor.

Newton by William Blake

Newton by William Blake is a print, first completed in 1795 but reworked and reprinted in 1805.

Isaac Newton is shown sitting naked and crouched on a rocky outcropping covered with algae, at the bottom of the sea. He is focused upon the diagram he is drawing with a compass upon a scroll while ignoring the world around him.

Blake’s opposition to the Enlightenment was deeply rooted. In his annotation to an engraving, Blake wrote “Art is the Tree of Life. Science is the Tree of Death.”

Newton’s theory of optics was especially offensive to Blake, who made a clear distinction between the vision of the “vegetative eye” and “spiritual vision.” Blake claimed to regularly experience visions of a spiritual nature.

Blake’s print served as the basis for Eduardo Paolozzi’s giant bronze sculpture Newton, after William Blake, which resides in the piazza of The British Library.

Newton after Blake

  • Title:                   Newton after Blake
  • Artist:                 Eduardo Paolozzi
  • Created:            1995
  • Material:            bronze
  • Dimensions:      12 feet (3.7 m) high, mounted on a plinth
  • Type:                 Public Sculpture
  • Cities:                Edinburgh, Hong Kong
  • Museums:         British Library,   Scottish National Gallery

Eduardo Paolozzi

  • Name:                Eduardo Paolozzi
  • Born:                 1924, Leith, Edinburgh, Scotland
  • Died:                  2005 (aged 81), London
  • Nationality:       Scottish
  • Notable Works

Eduardo Paolozzi sculpture ‘Master of the Universe’ Isaac Newton

Eduardo Paolozzi Newton British Library London 

A Virtual Tour of Public Art

Eduardo Paolozzi, the ‘Godfather’ of the Pop Art

A Virtual Tour of Famous Sculptures

Pioneers of Pop: Eduardo Paolozzi


“I can calculate the motion of heavenly bodies, but not the madness of people.”
– Newton


Photo Credit 1) Loco Steve from Bromley , UK / CC BY-SA (; William Blake / Public domain; Alex Liivet from Bournemouth, United Kingdom / CC BY (

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