The Whore of Babylon, William Blake

William Blake, The Whore of Babylon, 1809, watercolor, British Museum, London.

William Blake (1757–1827) was an English romantic poet, printmaker, and painter. Blake trained as a visual artist, serving an apprenticeship with a commercial engraver before entering the Royal Academy Schools at the age of 22. Later in life the Bible became the focus of Blake’s visual art. His most loyal patron was Thomas Butts, a prosperous Swedenborgian. During the decade 1799–1809, Butts commissioned from Blake a series of illustrations of the Bible that included about 50 tempera paintings and more than 80 watercolors. In this illustration from the Book of Revelation Blake interprets the metaphor of the Whore of Babylon. The expression on Blake's whore looks as if things have gotten out-of -hand and suggests the self-consuming, self-destroying power of evil and empire.

 

whore-babylon-blake

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