Job and His Family William Blake Buy Art Prints Now
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Tom Gurney BSc (Hons) is an art history expert with over 20 years experience
Published on June 19, 2020 / Updated on October 14, 2023
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This delightful portrait captures Job with his family close by in a positive iteration within the overall series of his illustrations for the Book of Job. Symbolically, they all gather under a strong tree, which gives a feeling of health and life.

Many of the other tales within the series would show Job in pain and suffering as he was punished for turning his back on God. It was deemed that he had lost his religious connection and therefore needed to be tested and then reminded of what was still the right path to take in life. Although this Hebrew Bible was from ancient times, the moral tales seemed entirely appropriate to William Blake within his own lifetime and so he was more than happy to produce illustrations to sit alongside the original texts. Above the gathered family, there are also an assortment of traditional musical instruments, including a harp and an early form of guitar which adds to the joyful atmosphere within this particular composition. The artist originally produced watercolours before later creating engraved versions that could then be turned into multiple series of prints for considerable profit.

The artist would continue to amend his designs within the print stage, checking as he went about the quality of each reproduction. He would also tinker with the frames and border around each illustration, most of which contained texts to sit alongside the content. Some print series would therefore be rejected out of hand, particularly in the early days, with only the best being put out for sale. The project would become a success, with both artist and patrons coming out of the experience with much happiness at what they had achieved together. The prints were dispersed widely and this helped to generate interest in upcoming works by the artist, though it was rare for him to make much money across his career. The patrons who supported him required an emotional connection to his work, and a desire to see him suceed as they knew it would be hard to generate profit in most cases.

Job and his Family derives from very early on in the Book of Job. These are great times for Job, things are going well and his family is also happy. We see in front of us here a demonstration of comfort and tranquility. Sadly, this was soon to change as his comfortable life included a loss of faith, and for that he would be punished in the upcoming passages. The accusation made against him was that he was too materialistic in mind and had lost sense the important things in life, which is something that we can all relate to all these centuries later. Even within Blake's era, these tales and guiding messages were also entirely appropriate, with the artist himself becoming concerned about the future direction of society. He would, therefore understandably, refer to the lessons of Job at several different stages of his career.