Satan in his Original Glory, Thou wast Perfect till Iniquity was Found in Thee 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 memorable figurative portrait by William Blake features Satan as angelic and pure, long before he would sadly lose his way and become the more famous version of himself that most think of today. The artwork was produced using ink and watercolour, a highly favoured combination in this artist's career.

One can see plenty of detail hand drawn by the artist here, particularly in the bottom half of the work. Two symbolic additions are Satan's orb and sceptre which he holds in his two hands. Experts have explained how these objects connect directly to the role of Satan as the overseer of our world. The original work was bright and much more intense, but sadly the impact of light over the past two centuries have not been kind, and most of the original colours have either faded considerably or even disappeared completely. Satan's wings stand proudly and boldly, as William Blake gives a large focus on them as they stretch right to the top of the painting. The actual piece is around 43cm in height, and 34cm in width, which is fairly standard for this artist's watercolours as most were fairly small in comparison to other artists of the time. Hogarth's paintings, for example, would be at least twice the size of that, often even more. Blake himself would use pen initially to mark out the approximate parts of the composition, before then adding detail and colour with his watercolours.

We believe that the inspiration for this piece was Ezekiel, though here the artist is providing a generic portrayal of Satan prior to his negative turn for the worst. He is displayed with all manner of precious stones and musical instruments which would have come directly from the Garden of Eden. Blake includes these around the bottom half of the artwork, littering the scene with all manner of delightful items. The sort of literature which inspired Blake would often tell of dramatic resurrections and forgiveness for those who mends their ways, but in this case the narrative is towards a more negative direction. Those knowledgeable on this scripture will typically be able to understand more about this artist's career but there was also a large amount of self expression and innovation within his art that did not perfectly match the original texts. This freedom would be a major plus-point in the opinion of artists who followed his career at the time.

Satan in his Original Glory, Thou wast Perfect till Iniquity was Found in Thee is one of many watercolour paintings by William Blake to be found in the collection of Tate which is based in the UK and spreads its collection around a number of high profile galleries including Tate Britain and Tate Modern. In all, they have one of the finest collections of art anywhere in the western world and regularly put on exciting exhibitions that include loans from elsewhere too. William Blake's Newton can be found here as well as Dante Gabriel Rossetti's The Beloved, John William Waterhouse's The Lady of Shalott and also a Frederic Leighton sculpture. The overall list is far too long to mention here and perfectly captures the essence of British art whilst also featuring many famous American and European artists as well, stretching back several centuries.

Satan in his Original Glory, Thou wast Perfect till Iniquity was Found in Thee in Detail William Blake