William Blake British
Subject William Shakespeare British

Not on view

This work was inspired by lines from Macbeth (act 1, scene 7), in which the title character imagines the aftermath of his intended murder of Duncan, the king:

"And pity, like a naked new-born babe,
Striding the blast, or heaven’s cherubin, hors’d 
Upon the sightless couriers of the air, 
Shall blow the horrid deed in every eye"

Here, Shakespeare’s similes are embodied to create a dynamic interplay where a baby springs from his mother towards an angel mounted on a blind steed. The artist inventively mixed relief etching with colors printed from millboard to produce this image, then used ink and watercolor to define details. Blake called prints like this one "frescoes" and considered them part of a greater narrative sequence.

Pity, William Blake (British, London 1757–1827 London), Relief etching, printed in color and finished with pen and ink and watercolor

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