Palm Sunday Painting; William Blake


The text below comes from an app on my phone called DailyArt. Each day they present an artwork and provide commentary on the artwork presented. Since the entry today was from William Blake, I decided to share it here for my fellow 19th Century Literature students. I hope you enjoy, and maybe subscribe to this great free app. The painting comes from

Blake, William, 1757-1827; Christ's Entry into Jerusalem

Blake, William; Christ’s Entry into Jerusalem; Glasgow Museums;


Tomorrow is Palm Sunday. It is the Christian moveable feast that falls on the Sunday before Easter. The feast commemorates Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem, an event mentioned in each of the four canonical Gospels.

This image by William Blake painted for Thomas Butts is out of the ordinary even for Blake. The subject of Jesus entering Jerusalem on Palm Sunday receives a distinctive treatment. Jesus and his party of disciples enjoy a conventional treatment although they display the elongated bodies and reduced sized heads which Blake adopted for a period of time. The crowd gathered around Jesus are definitely unconventional since they are in various degrees of undress. The contrasting sizes of the various figures leads to a confusion of scale and perspective.

The Window through which Jerusalem is visible is framed by trees which are being climbed by figures of individuals attempting to reach a higher level. Jerusalem is not pictured as the earthly city of Jesus’ day but as the heavenly Jerusalem of the vision of John of Patmos.

During the period when Blake was reevaluating Classical thought as an influence on his myth and prophecy, he seems to have reconsidered the neoclassical style of art which he had adopted in much of his work. Neoclassicism gained prominence with the enlightenment; Blake looked to replace them both. This picture owes much to Mannerism, a style of the 16th century. According to this National Gallery website Mannerism demonstrated that “excellence in painting demanded refinement, richness of invention, and virtuoso technique, criteria that emphasized the artist’s intellect.” Blake found that this technique allowed him to use his intellect and inventiveness to stimulate a fresh view of a Biblical scene which could be opened to vision


1 Comment

Filed under 19th Century Literature, art, literature

One response to “Palm Sunday Painting; William Blake

  1. What a wonderful find David! Thank you!

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