William Blake
The Pit of Disease: The Falsifiers 1824–7

Artwork details

William Blake 1757–1827
The Pit of Disease: The Falsifiers
Date 1824–7
Medium Ink and watercolour on paper
Dimensions Support: 372 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
Not on display

Display caption

Dante and Virgil have arrived at the circle of Hell inhabited by ‘falsifiers’ such as forgers. They are tormented by numerous diseases.

Blake used a red lake, probably brazilwood, and a gritty vermilion red to show the flames of Hell. These pigments have very different working properties, and are not easy to use in thin washes in gum medium. He preferred to use vermilion whenever a blood red or a living flesh tone was required. Here he has used it for parts of the diseased bodies of the two falsifiers at the right, which are raw with scratching.

August 2004

About this artwork