Incredibly, the original title given to this plate by artist William Blake was, "Thy Sons and thy Daughters were eating & drinking Wine in their eldest Brothers house & behold there came a great wind from the Wilderness & smote upon the four faces of the house & it fell upon the young Men and they are Dead". Within this complex and breaktaking composition we immediately spot Satan lurking threateningly at the top of the artwork, looking down upon Job's Sons and Daughters. Satan himself had doubted the commitment of Job to God and set about testing and challenging him. Blake would feature Satan in a variety of artworks, capturing both the good and bad sides of this controversial figure at different points in his life. In this example Satan's wings are particularly dominant which adds to the sense of fear as they block out much of the sun from above. One item to note is the strange way in which Blake captures Satan's feet, which may have been a deliberate action to provide symbolism for the contrast of good and evil.
Blake's main task was to produce the original plates that could then be used to create many series of prints that would be sold on by the patron. In this case the original prints were test items around which the artist could experiment with how the artworks came out, and also to try out different frames that sat around the printed artwork. Twenty One engravings were produced in total, surpassing the original agreement of twenty and one of those individual designs, Job's Sons and Daughters Overwhelmed by Satan, can be found here. We see an expressive design in this piece, with flames surrounding a menacing Satan as he peers over his victims. The original inspiration for this piece comes from The Book of Job, in which the perils and attractions of materialism are warned against within the Hebrew Bible. Job therefore continues to feature throughout the series in a variety of designs which take the original texts and then a apply additional flair from the artist himself.
One of the original prints made by Blake is now under the ownership of the Tate in the UK. They have a drawings and prints department which can be visited with prior appointment. Within that you will discover a good number of items from the artist's career, with both original handmade pieces and also some other prints which have survived to the present day. One positive aspect to these large institutions is that they can afford to organise research projects which help us to learn more about various artworks in their collection. They can also provide the perfect conditions to ensure that each item is preserved as best as possible. In the case of Blake, many of his artworks have suffered from damage in private collections over the centuries that have passed since.