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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