William Blake
Behemoth and Leviathan 1825, reprinted 1874

Artwork details

William Blake 1757–1827
Behemoth and Leviathan
Date 1825, reprinted 1874
Medium Line engraving on paper
Dimensions Image: 200 x 151 mm
Acquisition Purchased with the assistance of a special grant from the National Gallery and donations from the Art Fund, Lord Duveen and others, and presented through the the Art Fund 1919
On display at Tate Britain

Display caption

The Lord points down towards two beasts, Behemoth and Leviathan, and instructs Job about the extent and power of His creation. The right hand marginal text, from the Book of Job, describes Behemoth, who dominates the land, as 'the chief of the Ways of God.' Leviathan, a Sea Monster, is 'King over all the Children of Pride.' In his book 'Jerusalem' Blake has these two monsters representatives of war by land and by sea. This relationship is explicitly seen in Blake's two pictures showing Admiral Nelson and William Pitt included in this display. One interpretation of this design is that these beasts stand for the hopelessness of material nature. The Lord is pointing out to Job the negativeness of his faith so far.

September 1998

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