Job and His Daughters (1799-1800)

Blake, William (1757-1827)

Job and His Daughters
Pen and tempera on canvas, 27.3 x 38.4 cm
National Gallery of ArtWashington

An old man with a long, white beard and flowing, white hair sits surrounded by three young women in a gold-toned room in this horizontal painting. The people all have dark dots for eyes and touches of pink on the cheeks of their otherwise parchment-white skin. At the center of the composition, the man holds his arms out straight to his sides, lifted slightly above shoulder level, with his index fingers pointing and his middle fingers touching his thumbs to make a ring with each hand. He looks down to our right under bushy, furrowed brows, and his beard falls to his lap. His cream-white robe falls to the floor over his legs, but the toes of one foot peek out from under the hem. Two young women with blond hair sit to either side of him, leaning against his legs and sides. The woman to our left wears a harvest-yellow, long-sleeved gown, and she holds her hands pressed to her upper chest. The woman to our right wears a muted, rose-pink gown. The third woman, in front of the man, sits with her back to us, hands palm-down on the floor to either side of her, and her face resting on the man’s knees. Her blond hair is partially held in a net at the base of her skull, and her slate-blue gown pools around her. The edges of a ruby-red seat curl to either side of the women flanking the man. On the upper half of the wall opposite us, a roundel is flanked by a square panel to each side. We can barely make out the forms of some people in the monochromatic, caramel-brown sections. The floor is loosely patterned with muted red, black, royal blue, and butter yellow. Upon closer inspection, we find that the surface of the painting is cracked throughout. (NGA)