William Blake
The Penance of Jane Shore in St Paul’s Church c.1793

Artwork details

William Blake 1757–1827
The Penance of Jane Shore in St Paul’s Church
Date c.1793
Medium Ink, watercolour and gouache on paper
Dimensions Support: 245 x 295 mm
Acquisition Presented by the executors of W. Graham Robertson through the Art Fund 1949
On display at Tate Britain

Display caption

Jane Shore was a mistress of King Edward IV. After his death in 1483 she was accused of being a harlot and condemned to do public penance in St Paul’s Cathedral. The ‘golden glow’ of this watercolour comes from a very thick, now-yellowed glue layer that was almost certainly applied as a varnish by Blake. He varnished his temperas in a similar way. Once it had yellowed someone else added a picture varnish on top. This also went yellow but has since been removed. The subtle colouring of Blake’s painting is suppressed by the glue varnish.

September 2004

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