William Blake 1757 – 1827

Cain flees

mixed techniques on panel (32 × 43 cm) — 1825 Museum Tate Britain, London

William Blake biography

This work is linked to Genesis 4:13

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Also known as The Body of Abel Found by Adam and Eve.

In 1822 Blake wrote a short story addressed to Lord Byron, who had just published a play on Cain. Blake called it The Spirit of Abel. A Revelation in the Visions of Jehovah, Seen by William Blake. The opening act: "A rocky country. Eve fainted over the dead body of Abel which lays near a grave. Adam kneels by her, Jehovah stands above."

This depiction of that scene was made years later. The burning sun, the dark clouds, the stripes of the wind all emphasize that Cain has just been cursed and that he'd better run.

Blake had a dislike for oil paint. He often experimented with techniques from the pre-Renaissance epoch. For this mahogany panel he used pen and ink and tempera over gold. Unfortunately the mixture turned out to bleach. This photo shows digitally enhanced colours.

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