Title: The Angels hovering over the body of Christ in the Sepulchre
Artist: William Blake
Medium: Watercolor, pen and ink
Size: 42.2 x 31.4 cm
Date: c. 1805
Thomas Butts, a civil servant, was one of artist William Blake's most loyal patrons. He commissioned Blake to make over 80 watercolors of subjects from the Bible. This example depicts the body of Jesus Christ, which was placed in a tomb, or sepulchre, following his death by crucifixion. When Mary Magdalene visited the following day, she was startled to find two angels sitting at the head and feet where the body of Jesus had lain. This watercolor is an unusual and striking visual interpretation of the biblical text, strange light and colors used here enhance the sense of the mystery of the scene.
For his imagery Blake sought out a description in the Book of Exodus in the Old Testament, which recounts the history of the Jews many centuries before the time of Christ. When the prophet Moses is alone on
William Blake (28 November 1757 – 12 August 1827) was an English poet, painter, and printmaker. Largely unrecognized during his lifetime, Blake is now considered a seminal figure in the history of both the poetry and visual arts of the Romantic Age. Reverent of the Bible but hostile to the Church of England, Blake was influenced by the ideals and ambitions of the French and American revolutions, as well as by such thinkers as Jacob Boehme and Emanuel Swedenborg.