Epitome of James Hervey's Meditations among the Tombs William Blake Buy Art Prints Now
from Amazon

* As an Amazon Associate, and partner with Google Adsense and Ezoic, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Tom Gurney BSc (Hons) is an art history expert with over 20 years experience
Published on June 19, 2020 / Updated on October 14, 2023
Email: [email protected] / Phone: +44 7429 011000

The Epitome of James Hervey's Meditations among the Tombs is an ink and watercolor on paper by William Blake. He worked on the painting from 1820 to 1825. It is an impression of Blake's appreciation for James Hervey's work in poems and an expression and of his sadness at Hervey's death. Hervey wrote devotional texts and religious poetry.

The Technique Used

The painting has many intricate arrangements and many detailed forms. It depicts Harvey, in the bottom foreground, facing away from the viewer. He faces a staircase that winds up to God. On his right is his guardian angel, and on his left is the Angel of Providence. On the foreground on the left is a sage praying, a man, woman, and baby near a baptismal font. On the right of the painting is a depiction of the Virgin Mary, a woman, a father, and two angels of death. Above Hervey is an altar with the communion of two glasses of wine and bread on either side of the wine glasses. Above the communion at the center is a figure of Jesus Christ with a halo. He is flanked by two men on his left and right: Moses and Elijah.

On the left are stairs with two figures in red, one ascending and the other descending. There are other figures on the stairs in various poses. The top of the painting is of God in a sphere. On the farthest top, the left corner, is the word mercy and, on the top, far right corner, is the word wrath. On top of God is fire with the inscription, God out of Christ is a Consuming Fire. Blake uses dark colors of brown on the foreground, left and right edges with the human figures in this artwork. The staircase is highlighted in blue, which draws the eye of the viewer. There are some figures in red clothing and areas of red color depicting fire. Hervey is in a dark coloured dress which represents he is in a state of death.

Who Inspiration Him

The Epitome of James Hervey's Meditations among the Tombs is a homage to James Hervey's poem The Tyger. The book's focus is death, particularly the topics of early death and the reunification of those who have departed being reunited with their loved ones in heaven. The painting is Blake's interpretation of this piece of Hervey's work. The Epitome of James Hervey's Meditations among the Tombs is similar to the Last Judgement in the Sistine Chapel in Rome done by Michelangelo. They are identical in the intricacy of the paintings, with plenty of detail. Blake greatly admired Michelango's work. The painting hangs at the Tate Gallery in London.