William Blake
The River of Life c.1805

Artwork details

William Blake 1757–1827
The River of Life
Date c.1805
Medium Ink and watercolour on paper
Dimensions Image: 305 x 336 mm
support: 442 x 432 mm
Acquisition Bequeathed by W. Graham Robertson 1949
On display at Tate Britain

Display caption

This work illustrates lines from the Book of Revelation. The River of Life flows from the throne of God to the Tree of Life.

It is also a rare example of how Blake presented his watercolours: he drew the washline border between ruled ink lines.
The yellow tone of the paper is the result of over-exposure to light. This caused some of the original blue paint (indigo perhaps) to fade; the fuzzy band of Prussian blue on the lower edge, and spots of the same colour in the river, were added later by someone trying to ‘correct’ this fading.

September 2004

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