William Blake 1757–1827
Dante and Virgil Approaching the Angel Who Guards the Entrance of Purgatory
Medium Graphite, ink and watercolour on paper
Dimensions Support: 527 x 373 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
Here Blake has used Prussian blue, indigo blue, vermilion, a red lake (probably brazilwood), another red lake with a pinker tone, and yellow gamboge. He never used madder, the most stable of the red lakes, as it was too expensive.
All his pigments, except for vermilion, are sensitive to light, so it is fortunate this watercolour has not been exposed to too much light. Indigo blue and the red lakes fade faster than gamboge. This is because the gum Blake added to make the gamboge look glossy has protected it.
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