William Blake, an English Romantic poet, painter and printmaker, was commissioned around 80 works with biblical subjects by his patron Thomas Butts, a civil servant. His own interpretations of the famous scenes from the Bible are penetrated with spirituality, magic and Blake’s personal experience. Just watch:
When Blake was eight he told his mother he had seen a tree full of angels “bespangling every bough like stars”. This apparition took place on Peckham Rye, one of south-east London’s green spaces. This illustration refers to the moment in New Testament before Jesus’ Resurrection. One can sense here some tension, suspended in the air. What is it? We don’t know equally as we don’t know what comes after death.
Blake, apprenticed to an engraver at the age of 14, is considered a master of this medium. This engraving was made after Henry Fuseli yet Blake added here his own interpretation – his Satan looks like a tortured man. He experimented with the oval-pointed echoppe needle, an 18th century French engraving method. You can notice it in Satan’s flesh which is made with tiny incisions enmeshed in the crosshatching.
Adam and Eve
Adam and Eve were the first people on Earth, with Eve created out of Adam’s rib. Here they’re showed as lovers surrounded by the beauties of flora of Eden. However, this idyll is being observed from the sky by an intruder, Satan, who’s depicted with his symbolic animal, the serpent. Is he already plotting how to tempt Eve?
Cain and Abel
Adam and Eve had two sons- Cain and Abel. Abel was a farmer while Cain herded animals. When brothers made God sacrifices, God liked Abel’s bloodless offering much better. Envious Cain killed his brother in revenge. This painting depicts the moment when the parents find Abel’s body and Cain realizes how an awful crime he’s committed. The atmosphere of despair is reflected in the bloody-red sun and dark stormy clouds. They herald the new era for Cain and entire humanity.