Nebuchadnezzar, 1795

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King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon failed to heed the prophet Daniel’s warning to mend his sinful ways and show mercy to the poor. God stripped the king of his realm and drove him to “eat grass as oxen, . . . his body . . . wet with the dew of heaven, till his hairs were grown like eagles’ feathers, and his nails like birds’ claws” (Daniel 4:33). Poet-painter William Blake’s luminous exploration of depravity is part of his extended investigation of the Sublime, the irrational realm of visceral, overwhelming emotion—the flip side of the Enlightenment—where God and nature tower over even the most powerful human being.

Details
Title
Nebuchadnezzar
Artist Life
1757–1827
Role
Artist
Accession Number
P.12,581
Provenance
'the artist's wife, Catherine Blake, London (1827-d.1831); 'Frederick Tatham, London (from 1831); 'Joseph Hogarth, London (until 1854; offered c. 1843 through George Richmond to John Ruskin; Hogarth sale, Southgate and Barrett, London, June 7-30, 1854, no. 7553, for £2.7.0 to Graves or £10.10.0 to Proctor). 'Samuel Palmer, London (in 1859). Sir William Stirling Maxwell, Keir, Scotland (by 1863-'d.1878); his son, Brig. General Archibald Stirling (1867-1931), Keir, Scotland ('1878-at least 1913). [Mrs. Madeline Clifton, Carfax Gallery, London, in mid-1950s; sold to Agnew's]; [Thomas Agnews & Sons, London, until 1957; sold to Mia]. For a discussion of the hypothetical provenance before 1863, see Butlin p. 166, no. 304, pp. 157-58
Catalogue Raisonne
Butlin 1981, no. 303 (and probably no. 304)
Curator Approved

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