Here Blake depicts a scene from the biblical ‘Book of Job’, a part of the Old Testament which explores the existence of evil and suffering despite the presence of an all-powerful, loving God. Job is subjected to a number of extreme trials to test the limits of human faith and endurance. Blake shows Job being tormented by Satan, who is plaguing him with boils.
Satan Smiting Job with Sore Boils
Original: Ink and tempera on mahogany, 32.6 x 43.2 cm Tate. Presented by Miss Mary H. Dodge through the Art Fund 1918
William Blake (1757 – 1827) was an English poet and artist. Blake trained as an engraver and had a career in etching, engraving and illustration. Although he exhibited his watercolours at the Royal Academy, from 1780 he railed against academic art, insisting instead on individual inspiration. His own style was influenced by Gothic sculpture and Michelangelo’s figures. Although he received little public recognition in his lifetime, he has since been hailed as one of Britain’s greatest artists, and celebrated for his anti-slavery and pro-equality views.