Artwork Information

  • Title:

    Satan before the Throne of God

  • Artist:

    Blake, William

  • Artist Bio:

    British, 1757–1827

  • Date:


  • Medium:


  • Dimensions:

    7 3/4 x 5 15/16 inches

  • Credit Line:

    Wichita Art Museum, Gift of Mr. Robert Fizzell

  • Object Number:


  • Display:

    Not Currently on Display

About the Artwork

Joseph Wicksteed, who published the authoritative critical interpretation of William Blake’s Illustrations of the Book of Job, explained that the artist never intended merely to provide a passive accompaniment to the biblical text. Instead, Blake set forth his own visionary illumination of the story of Job, a vision cast in deliberate opposition to conventional interpretations. The latter emphasized the necessity of faith and obedience to God in a temporal world where mortals must experience suffering and evil. Blake, however, approached the Book of Job as an allegory of the spiritual nature of man.

In the Old Testament Job is portrayed as a good and pious believer who will be tested by God. In his symbolic narrative Blake introduced Job as a man bound to empty ritual and wrongfully proud of his piety, good works, and prosperity. The drama depicted in the succeeding plates is one, which occurs within the soul of Job. Blake’s figures of God and Satan do not represent external authorities that vie for Job’s allegiance, but the forces of spirituality and materialism at work within Job himself. In the final plate, when Job has accepted the dominion of his spiritual nature, the pious book-reading of the opening scene has been replaced by joyous music-making.