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William Blake, Plague


Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Date: c. 1805
Technique: Pen and watercolour over graphite pencil on paper, 302 x 430 mm

A view of a community torn apart by disease; a husband holds the lifeless body of his wife, their dead child on her lap; a daughter or wife, horrified, looks upon the body of a loved one carried on a stretcher. Blake first drew this scene around 1779, when it may have been intended to refer to the historical plague of 1665. He returned to this composition many times in his life, making the scene more generalised. This is the last of the series.

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