The Aryan Blake: Hinduism, art and revelation in William Blake's Pitt and Nelson paintings

Paul Barlow

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2 Citations (Scopus)


This article considers William Blake’s use of Indian imagery, a topic which has exercised recent scholars of Blake’s work but which has led to an interpretative stalemate due to differing conceptions of Indian art’s meanings within nineteenth-century British culture. Blake’s Spiritual Form of Nelson Guiding Leviathan and Spiritual Form of Pitt Guiding Behemoth (c.1805–9, Tate) have proved particularly problematic in this regard. Focusing on these two paintings, this article seeks to move beyond the critical impasse by situating these works within the interlinked contexts of Blake’s political and spiritual beliefs, the purposefully cross-cultural and visionary dynamic of his work, and contemporary responses to the expansion of British imperial power in India.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)277-292
JournalVisual Culture in Britain
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 11 Sept 2011

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