William Blake 1757–1827
The Hypocrites with Caiaphas. Verso: Sketch of a Stooping Figure
Medium Graphite, ink and watercolour on paper. Verso: chalk on paper
Dimensions Support: 373 x 527 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
In 1824 Blake began work on a commission to illustrate the Divine Comedy, by the fourteenth-century poet, Dante. In this poem, Dante is guided by the classical poet Virgil through Hell (Inferno), Purgatory, and then Paradise.
Most of Blake’s illustrations are for the first part, Inferno, showing sinners being punished. Here, Dante and Virgil (right) watch the hypocrites, wearing lead-lined cloaks, filing past the high priest Caiaphas, who is nailed to a cross on the ground. Caiaphas was the priest who said that Christ should die. Each hypocrite steps on Caiaphas as he passes.
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