William Blake, The Lord Answering Job Out of the Whirlwind. 1805. Pen and black ink, gray wash, and watercolor over traces of graphite, The Morgan Library and Museum, New York.
William Blake (1757–1827) was an English romantic poet, printmaker, and painter. The Lord Answering Job Out of the Whirlwind is part of a series of 19 watercolors commissioned by Thomas Butts to illustrate the book of Job. Blake would rework this series into a set of 22 engravings that afforded him rare commercial success. Blake used bold lines to outline his figures and the landscape behind them and blue and light tan watercolor to fill it in. This painting depicts God coming out of a whirlwind to rebuke Job and his friends. The bearded figure of God and the swirling cloud behind him dominate the composition. Blake’s figures, especially the figure of God, are evocative of sculpture. Consider the stonelike color of the figures, the lack of delineation between skin and hair, and the attention Blake pays to the musculature and folds in clothlike draping of God’s lower body.