William Blake 1757–1827
The Inscription over the Gate
Medium Graphite, ink and watercolour on paper
Dimensions Support: 527 x 374 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 his Divine Comedy, Dante describes the pilgrimage he made with the poet Virgil, travelling into Hell, up the Mountain of Purgatory to reach Paradise at last. Entering the Gate of Hell was a moment when Dante (in red) wept with fear.
Dante describes the ‘dim’ colours which contribute to his terror. Blake’s dark shadows of pure black pigment next to areas of unpainted white paper contribute to this. He used Prussian blue for the blue areas, and indigo blue mixed with yellow for the green foliage, so that they contrast. The blue, green and vermilion red do not overlap.
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