William Blake, Naomi Entreating Ruth and Orpah to Return to the Land of Moab, 1795. Planographic color printing with watercolor, pen and ink, Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, England.
William Blake (1757–1827), one of the greatest poets in the English language, is also considered among the most original visual artists of the Romantic era. In this print, he turns to the biblical book of Ruth for inspiration and portrays Naomi entreating her daughters-in-law Ruth and Orpah to return to the land of Moab.
Blake described his technique as “fresco.” It appears to be a form of monotype: using oil and tempera paints mixed with chalks, Blake painted the design on a smooth surface (a copperplate or piece of millboard), from which he pulled several prints simply by pressing a sheet of paper against the damp paint. He finished the designs in ink; each was a unique impression of the original. Blake considered the Bible to be the greatest work of poetry ever written, and it provided inspiration for much of his work.