Black, gray, and brown ink applied with pen and point of brush; gray, pink, yellow, and green wash
Sheet: 37.9 x 32.5 cm (14 15/16 x 12 13/16 in.)
John L. Severance Fund 1950.239
Catalogue raisonné: Butlin 471
This drawing was first owned by Thomas Butts, an English civil servant who became William Blake's most important patron and supporter for about two decades.
Although he rejected institutionalized religion, Blake was intensely spiritual, and much of his art was inspired by a highly personal reading of the Bible or by literature based upon it, such as John Milton’s Paradise Lost (1667). The Virgin Mary is centered in this highly stylized composition. Upon her lap she clasps the infant Christ whose outstretched arms foreshadow the Crucifixion. The Mother and Child are flanked by Saint Joseph on the left, and Saint Anne (the Virgin’s mother), on the right. Below, Saint John the Baptist, who foretold Christ’s death and resurrection, plays with a lamb.
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