Satan Exulting over Eve

Object Details

Title:

Satan Exulting over Eve

Artist/Maker(s):

William Blake (British, 1757 - 1827)

Culture:

British

Date:

1795

Medium:

Graphite, pen and black ink, and watercolor

Dimensions:

42.5 x 53.5 cm (16 3/4 x 21 1/16 in.)

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Satan hovers in malevolent glory over Eve, who is entwined by his alter ego, the serpent of the Garden of Eden. The uneven, fibrous, opaque color of the ground under Eve distinguishes this area as printed, while the even sweep of the red washes shows that the flames behind Satan are mostly watercolor, a medium William Blake often used because he liked its transparent quality.

Blake's images reflected his own very personal visions, which he insisted were "not a cloudy vapour or a nothing; they are organized and minutely articulated beyond all that the mortal and perishing nature can produce." The twelve large, color-printed drawings that he created in 1795 rank among his most complex works. To achieve the effects he envisioned, poet-painter Blake invented an innovative three-step process: 1) drawing the image with thick, sticky watercolors on a piece of stiff paper board; 2) stamping the sticky image on paper; and 3) working over the resulting print in watercolor washes and pen and ink. No more than three variants of each image are known to survive, each one unique.

Exhibitions
Works by William Blake (January 1904)
  • Carfax and Co., (London), January to January, 1904, (Cat.)
Frescoes, Prints and Drawings by William Blake (June to July 1906)
  • Carfax and Co., (London), June to July, 1906, (Cat. no. 34)
Works by William Blake (Nottingham) (1914)
  • Art Museum, Nottingham Castle, (Nottingham), 1914, (Cat. no. 37)
Works by William Blake (Whitworth) (1914)
  • Whitworth Art Gallery, (Manchester), 1914, (Cat. no. 57)
Blake Centenary Exhibition (1927)
  • Burlington Fine Arts Club (London), 1927, (Cat. no. 38 (Catalogue by A.G.B. Russell))
William Blake Bicentennial Exhibition (1957)
  • Achenbach Foundation for Graphic Arts, (San Francisco), 1957, (Cat.)
William Blake (Tate) (March 1978 to May 1978)
  • Tate Britain, (London), March to May, 1978, (Cat. no. 86 (catalogue by M. Butlin))
William Blake and His Followers (December 1982 to February 1983)
  • Achenbach Foundation for Graphic Arts, (San Francisco), December, 1982 to February, 1983, (Cat.)
William Blake (September 18 to November 25, 1990)
  • National Museum of Western Art (Tokyo), September 18 to November 25, 1990, (Cat.)
Drawings from the J. Paul Getty Museum (May 24 to August 8, 1993)
  • The Metropolitan Museum of Art, (New York), May 24 to August 8, 1993, (Cat. 13)
Drawings from the J. Paul Getty Museum (October 29, 1993 to January 23, 1994)
  • Royal Academy of Arts (London), October 29, 1993 to January 23, 1994, (Cat. 117)
William Blake's Illuminated Prints (September 27 to December 18, 1994)
  • Huntington Art Collections, (San Marino), September 27 to December 18, 1994, (Cat.)
Color in Drawing (March 10 to May 24, 1998)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), March 10 to May 24, 1998, (Cat.)
The Body Beautiful: Artists Draw the Nude (1440 - 1880) (December 14, 1999 to February 27, 2000)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), December 14, 1999 to February 27, 2000, (Cat.)
The Prismatic Palette: Four Centuries of Watercolors (October 5, 2004 to January 2, 2005)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), October 5, 2004 to January 2, 2005, (Cat.)
Drawing the Classical Figure (December 23, 2008 to March 8, 2009)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), December 23, 2008 to March 8, 2009, (Cat.)
Luminous Paper: British Watercolors and Drawings (July 19 to October 23, 2011)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), July 19 to October 23, 2011, (Cat.)
Bibliography

"Acquisitions/1984." The J. Paul Getty Museum Journal 13 (1985), p. 185, no. 69.