William Blake Nebuchadnezzar 1795–c. 1805

Artwork details

Artist
William Blake 1757–1827
Title
Nebuchadnezzar
Date 1795–c. 1805
Medium Colour print, ink and watercolour on paper
Dimensions Support: 543 x 725 mm
frame: 661 x 829 x 50 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition Presented by W. Graham Robertson 1939
Reference
N05059

Display caption

In the prospectus for his book, Varley announced his intention to include an engraving of Blake’s Nebuchadnezzar. This was never completed but, as with Ghost of a Flea, Varley may have been interested in the transformation of man into beast. The Bible describes how King Nebuchadnezzar was driven mad and forced to live like a wild animal as punishment for excessive pride. The association between moral corruption and bestial appearance is also suggested by Lavater, who traces a scale of perfection from the head of a frog to the face of Apollo (see the nearby panel).

March 2011

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