Saturday, October 22, 2011


The moment when Jesus completely envisioned the trust he must place in God's love, was (and is) the decisive moment in the redemption of man. It is followed by a realization of being under the care of the spiritual forces through which the cosmos is ordered and maintained. Blake used angels also in the third image of his illustrations to Paradise Regained: Andrew and Peter searching for Christ.

Matthew 4
[11] Then the devil leaveth him, and, behold, angels came and ministered unto him.

Milton elaborates the ministration of the angels and echos the angel songs of the nativity:

Paradise Regained
"From his uneasy station, and upbore,
As on a floating couch, through the blithe air;
Then, in a flowery valley, set him down
On a green bank, and set before him spread
A table of celestial food, divine
Ambrosial fruits fetched from the Tree of Life,
And from the Fount of Life ambrosial drink, [590]
That soon refreshed him wearied, and repaired
What hunger, if aught hunger, had impaired,
Or thirst; and, as he fed, Angelic quires
Sung heavenly anthems of his victory
Over temptation and the Tempter proud:
'True Image of the Father, whether throned
In the bosom of bliss, and light of light
Conceiving, or, remote from Heaven, enshrined
In fleshly tabernacle and human form,
Wandering the wilderness whatever place, [600]
Habit, or state, or motion, still expressing
The Son of God, with Godlike force endued
Against the attempter of thy Father's throne
And thief of Paradise! Him long of old
Thou didst debel, and down from Heaven cast
With all his army; now thou hast avenged
Supplanted Adam, and, by vanquishing
Temptation, hast regained lost Paradise, '"

Paradise Regained

Image # 11
Angels ministering to Christ
The angels appeared in the previous illustration to Paradise Regained as insurance that Jesus would not dash his foot against a stone. They appear in this image enveloping him in the light of Eternity. Blake is emphasizing that Jesus has passed through any doubt or indecision concerning the determination to follow the path God was opening to him. The angels offer him the bread and wine: spiritual food which will sustain his Spiritual Body.

Milton has the angels announce that Jesus 'by vanquishing Temptation, hast regained lost Paradise.' Blake's symmetrical image incorporating multiple symbols of completion, reinforces the idea that integration has been achieved restoring paradise.

Four Zoas: Night the Eighth, Page 103 (E376)
"Then sang the Sons of Eden round the Lamb of God & said
Glory Glory Glory to the holy Lamb of God
Who now beginneth to put off the dark Satanic body
Now we behold redemption Now we know that life Eternal
Depends alone upon the Universal hand & not in us"

Here are a few words from Peter Ackroyd's biography: Blake, commenting on Blake's development as an artist and the use to which he put his art.

"Blake has liberated himself from the stern dictates of 'the bounding line' and 'determinate and bounding form' that had been so much an aspect of his exhibition catalogue. He is less inclined to linearity, and is therefore more painterly. The same fluency and fluidity are to be seen in the set of twelve illustrations to Paradise Regained, but the freer manner is not achieved at the expense of Blake's spiritual intensity; the figure of Christ is illuminated with an extraordinary radiance and, with such watercolors as 'Christ in the Wilderness' and Christ's Troubled Dream', we explore the art of a man who has removed himself from the world and from all worldly hopes. It is spiritual art, too, because of the extraordinarily posed and poised figures surrounded by the blue and yellow of vision; the hieratic and numinous qualities of each scene are powerfully evoked, since this is a true nineteenth-century spiritual art that has no counterparts and no proper successors."
(Page 308)

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