The Angels hovering over the body of Christ in the Sepulchre thumbnail 1
The Angels hovering over the body of Christ in the Sepulchre thumbnail 2
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Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Request to view at the Prints & Drawings Study Room, level H , Case WD, Shelf 61, Box A

The Angels hovering over the body of Christ in the Sepulchre

Watercolour
ca. 1805 (painted)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

Thomas Butts (1757-1845), a civil servant, was one of William Blake's most loyal patrons. He commissioned Blake (1757-1845) to make over 80 watercolours of subjects from the Bible. This watercolour depicts the body of Jesus Christ, which was placed in a cave (his tomb or sepulchre) following his death by crucifixion. When Mary Magdalene visits, she is startled to find two angels sitting at the head and feet 'where the body of Jesus had lain'. Jesus then appears and speaks to her. For his imagery Blake sought out a description in the Book of Exodus in the Old Testament. When the prophet Moses is alone on Mount Sinai, God tells him to instruct the Israelites to make a 'mercy seat' flanked by cherubims (angels) all made of gold. The description of the angels in Exodus is the source for Blake's design here. This is an unusual and striking visual interpretation of the biblical text. The strange light and colours used here convey a sense of the mystery of the scene.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Additional TitleChrist in the sepulchre, guarded by angels
Materials and Techniques
Watercolour, pen and ink
Brief Description
Watercolour by William Blake entitled 'Christ in the sepulchre, guarded by angels'. Great Britain, 1808.
Physical Description
Two identical angels in white robes with wings entended and pointing upwards form a triangular shape with Christ as a corpse, swathed in white robes beneath them. There is a glowing light between the heads of the two angels. Signed by the artist.
Dimensions
  • Height: 420mm
  • Width: 314mm
Style
Gallery Label
William Blake 1757-1827 Christ in the Sepulchre, Guarded by Angels About 1805; signed and inscribed 'Exod : Cxxv.V.20' Blake has combined two biblical subjects. One comes from the description of the Tabernacle in the Old Testament book of Exodus: 'the cherubims shall stretch forth their wings on high...and their faces shall look one to another'. The other derives from the Gospel of St John in the New Testament: 'two angels in white sitting...where the body of Jesus had lain'. Pen and ink and watercolour on paper Given by the heirs of Esmond Morse 1972 Museum no. P.6-1972
Credit line
Given by the heirs of Esmond Morse
Subjects depicted
Literary ReferenceThe Bible, Exodus
Summary
Thomas Butts (1757-1845), a civil servant, was one of William Blake's most loyal patrons. He commissioned Blake (1757-1845) to make over 80 watercolours of subjects from the Bible. This watercolour depicts the body of Jesus Christ, which was placed in a cave (his tomb or sepulchre) following his death by crucifixion. When Mary Magdalene visits, she is startled to find two angels sitting at the head and feet 'where the body of Jesus had lain'. Jesus then appears and speaks to her. For his imagery Blake sought out a description in the Book of Exodus in the Old Testament. When the prophet Moses is alone on Mount Sinai, God tells him to instruct the Israelites to make a 'mercy seat' flanked by cherubims (angels) all made of gold. The description of the angels in Exodus is the source for Blake's design here. This is an unusual and striking visual interpretation of the biblical text. The strange light and colours used here convey a sense of the mystery of the scene.
Collection
Accession Number
P.6-1972

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record createdFebruary 12, 2003
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