William Blake
Los and Orc c.1792–3

Artwork details

William Blake 1757–1827
Los and Orc
Date c.1792–3
Medium Ink and watercolour on paper
Dimensions Support: 217 x 295 mm
Acquisition Presented by Mrs Jane Samuel in memory of her husband 1962
View this artwork by appointment, at Tate Britain's Prints and Drawings Rooms

Display caption

This watercolour shows two of the characters in Blake’s mythology. Los has chained his son Orc to a rock in a fit of jealousy. He regrets this too late: Orc’s limbs have become rooted in the rock.

The sombre mood is conveyed by the dark colour which Blake chose to dominate the scene. He used a pure brown ochre for the entire background. Orc’s shadow is a grey wash. The light falling on the figures’ flesh is shown with paint mixed from chalk and vermilion. The yellow used in the foreground – glossy, transparent gamboge – has not faded.

August 2004

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