Obelisk Art History

Pity

William Blake, 1795
Pity, William Blake
Pity, zoomed in
42.2 cmPity scale comparison52.7 cm
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Pity is a Symbolist Etching and Watercolor Print created by William Blake in 1795. It lives at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. The image is in the Public Domain, and tagged Allegory and Horses. Download

‘Pity, like a naked newborn babe, striding the blast, or heaven’s cherubim horsed, upon the sightless couriers of the air, shall blow the horrid deed in every eye.’ These lines from scene 7, act 1 of Macbeth inspired William Blake to create this obsessively worked monoprint, a style he called his frescos. In this uniquely personal form of printmaking, Blake began with relief etching, then applied oil or tempera mixed with chalk, and finally finished by hand with a pen. Blake illustrated many scenes by Shakespeare and Milton, creating a strangely cohesive world of ghostly figures and supernatural ritual.

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William Blake: The Complete Illuminated Books, Recommended Reading

Blake was both an artist and a poet, and he often combined both forms into intensely illuminated texts where tiny figures dance with the words or painted flames engulf the page. This beautiful volume reproduces these visionary works in full color.

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