Wednesday, September 14, 2011


William Blake wanted to make art accessible to the people since he considered art to be the whole of life and not an optional addition. One of his ideas was to paint movable temperas or 'frescos' which individuals could hang on the walls of their homes. Thomas Butts became a customer in a big way for these items by ordering in 1799, fifty temperas of Biblical subjects. The medium which Blake used for these 'frescos' proved to be less than durable leading to cracking and darkening of the surface. However a number have survived. The Blake Archive has recently added a group to their collection of images.

This image is from a Christie's offering of Blake's Flight into Egypt from 1799.

Blake pictures the holy family to be well protected on their journey under the wings of angels. Surrounding cherubs express their delight. The contrary is offered by the bedraggled but patient donkey who plods along.

Matthew 2
12] And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way.
[13] And when they were departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him.
[14 When he arose, he took the young child and his mother by night, and departed into Egypt:

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