William BlakeThe Death of the Virgin 1803

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Artwork details

Artist
William Blake (1757‑1827)
Title
The Death of the Virgin
Date 1803
MediumWatercolour on paper
Dimensionssupport: 378 x 371 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition Presented by the executors of W. Graham Robertson through the Art Fund 1949
Reference
N05899
On display at Tate Britain
Theme: BP Spotlights

Display caption

This is one of many watercolours Blake made for his most important patron, Thomas Butts. It was painted during Blake's stay in Felpham, Sussex when, in his own words, he put himself 'back as if I was a learner' and gave 'two years to the intense study of... light & shade & colour.' By comparing this work with the earlier temperas Blake painted for Butts, some of which are shown in this room, we can get an idea of the improvements Blake was aiming at in his art: a renewed power of design (seen in the symmetrical composition with its energetic, flowing outlines), dark shadows rejected in favour of more uniformity between light and shade, and greater radiance in his colours.

August 2004

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