Color engraving "Nebuchadnezzar" was made by the English artist, engraver and poet William Blake in 1795. Hand painting, ink, and watercolor were used. The work is filled with symbolism.
The plot is taken from the Book of the Prophet Daniel. The Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar built Babylon in the glory of his power and greatness. For vanity, he was excommunicated, ate grass, washed with dew. Hair grew like a lion, and nails like a bird.
The picture shows exactly the moment when a person, in fact, has already lost his human appearance and began to turn into a beast. It is no coincidence that the pose of the engraving hero is chosen - he stands on all fours.
The work of light and shadow is simply magnificent. The lower part of the body, legs - dark, gloomy, are the embodiment of the bestial principle. Muscle lines, dark dips on the torso and hips complement this impression. At some point, the viewer's imagination turns them into wool. The huge sharp, creepy nails highlighted on the legs emphasize predation and non-human nature. Only the head, upper body and toenails are lit. Perhaps a bright head and hands symbolize the human principle.
However, the thought of it disappears as quickly as it appears - it is obvious that the hero’s face is losing its former appearance. Crazy eyes full of horror, a half-open mouth, a huge mane cross out the expectation of rationality, dignity and respect. There is no trace of the vanity and pride of the former king in the figure.
It is worth paying attention to the study of the breast. The contours of the muscles resemble chain mail, tightly squeezing the chest, depriving of freedom of breathing and chained heart.
Engraving is not accidentally chosen for work. It allows you to achieve volumetric images, sharpness and clarity of lines. The composition encourages the viewer to explore every corner of the picture, but the look constantly returns to the eyes, as if correlating with the insane look, as with the center of the plot, everything that is depicted in the engraving.
The work is stored in the Tate Gallery, London.
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