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lower left in monogram: WB inv.


Painted for Thomas Butts [1757-1845];[1] by descent to Thomas Butts, Jr. (sale, Messrs. Foster, London, 29 June 1853, no. 87), bought by J.C. Strange, Highgate. (B.F. Stevens and Brown), London. Graham Robertson [1866-1948]; (his sale, Christie, Manson & Woods, London, 22 July 1949, No. 102), bought by the William Blake Trust, whose Trustees sold it 1951 to Lessing J. Rosenwald, Philadelphia; gift to NGA, 1954.

Exhibition History

Royal Academy, London, 1799, no. 154.
The Tempera Paintings of William Blake, Arts Council of Great Britain, London, 1951, no. 29, pl. 8.
The Art of William Blake, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 1957, no. 1.
William Blake: His Art and Times, Yale Center for British Art, New Haven; Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto. London, 1982: 38, fig. 22.
Il Genio e le Passioni. Leonardo e il Cenacolo. Precedenti, innovazioni, riflessi di un capolavoro, Palazzo Reale, Milan, 2001, no. 141, repro.

Technical Summary

The exceptionally fine canvas is plain woven; it has been lined. The ground is white, thinly applied. The painting is executed in glue tempera (characteristic of Blake's technique), applied in thin, multiple glazes in the figures and in thicker, opaque layers in the dark background; the drapery and details of the figures are applied in stiff, textured paint modified by thin overlying glazes. The painting is very fragile. The canvas is dessicated and brittle; the lining is dry and stained on the reverse; there is minute cleavage throughout the ground and paint layers, caused by contraction of the brittle glue medium. The much darkened varnish was removed and flaking paint fixed with wax when the painting was restored, between 1949 and 1951 for the William Blake Trust. There is a considerable amount of overpaint throughout, applied with minute brushstrokes. The slightly toned natural resin varnish has discolored yellow to a moderate degree.


Rossetti, William. Annotated Catalogue. In Gilchrist, Alexander. Life of William Blake, "Pictor Ignotus." 2 vols. London and Cambridge, 1863: 2:no. 23.
Keynes, Sir Geoffrey. William Blake's Illustrations to the Bible. Clairvaux (The Trianon Press), 1957: xiii, no. 132, repro. pl. vi, color repro.
Summary Catalogue of European Paintings and Sculpture. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1965: 15.
National Gallery of Art. European Paintings and Sculpture, Illustrations. Washington, 1968: 8, repro.
European Paintings: An Illustrated Summary Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1975: 30, repro.
Rosenwald, Lessing J. Recollections of a Collector. New York, 1976: 100.
Bindman, David. Blake as an Artist. Oxford, 1977: 124, 127, 128.
Paley, Morton D. William Blake. Oxford, 1978: 55, pl. 80.
Butlin, Martin. The Paintings and Drawings of William Blake. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1981.
Bindman, David. William Blake: His Art and Times. Exh. cat. Yale Center for British Art, New Haven; Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto. London, 1982: 38, fig. 22.
European Paintings: An Illustrated Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1985: 49, repro.
Hayes, John. British Paintings of the Sixteenth through Nineteenth Centuries. The Collections of the National Gallery of Art Systematic Catalogue. Washington, D.C., 1992: 14-17, repro. 15.

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