William Blake, "When the morning Stars sang together, & all the Sons of God shouted for joy," 1825; Engraving; The William Hood Dunwoody Fund
Saturday, December 23, 2006Sunday, June 17, 2007
The British visionary poet, painter, illustrator, and engraver William Blake (1757-1827) was one of the leading figures of the Romantic era. Illustrations of The Book of Job, first published in London in 1825, ranks among Blake's best-known and most enduring achievements. This masterwork of the engraver's art comprises 21 line engravings and an engraved title page; each plate is accompanied by text that Blake selected from Job and other books of the Bible.
The Book of Job, one of the books of the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament), recounts the trials and eventual spiritual awakening of Job, a virtuous and wealthy citizen of Uz. The biblical text was written as a didactic poem framed by a prose prologue and epilogue. Intended as a challenge to the belief that misfortunes are punishment for sin, The Book of Job was for Blake the apotheosis of lyric expression.
Taken as a whole, Blake's engravings are a metaphysical commentary in the form of a symbolic narrative. By Blake's own account, the engravings are not to be read literally, but are rather to be spiritually discerned as conceptions of the artist's personal reading of the Bible. To Blake, Job's spiritual journey paralleled his own creative struggles and spiritual awareness. Completed when the artist was nearly 70 years of age, Illustrations of the Book of Job is the last of Blake's experiments in combining text and image.