Psalm 18 is represented visually here by artist Blake. The figure at the very bottom of the composition, who you might not even have noticed, is a representation of David. In his desperation he calls out to God for assistance and he floats almost lifelessly within this scene. He is danger and hopes that God's influence can keep him safe as he lies with his arms out wide and his face staring into the sky. The angelic face found at the top of this painting represents Christ who arrives on the back of angels who decorate the rest of the upper half of the artwork. Their positions are carefully aligned, with wings outstretched to produce a pattern across the background. A bright sun appears from the background, delivering a feeling of divinity as Christ arrives. Blake was respected at the time by other artists for the freedom of his work, taking scenes from literature and instilling his own imagination.
William Blake would take the original single cherub from the texts and chose to multiply it into different variations, adding greater interest to the piece and also providing a good balance to the composition. He was entirely comfortable in using his artistic licence to produce the best artwork possible, not concerning himself with remaining entirely faithful to the original texts. The theme of salvation runs strongly throughly this artwork, as we see different ages and the representation of forgiveness and re-invention. We can feel the beauty of Christ as he arrives from behind a bright sun, ready to deliver a second chance for someone worthy of receiving it. The open arms also are a link to Christ's own suffering and the theme of Resurrection, again, for those who learn and improve their ways in the context of David.
The Tate boasts a fine selection of artworks from William Blake's career, including original watercolours as well as a number of prints from various drawings. This item was presented to the institution as far back as 1878, when it was less than a century old. Today William Blake is considered an historic artist, but his legacy can still very much be felt today within British society, both from his poetry as well as his art. We continue to celebrate his poems such as The Tyger and London, as well as iconic artworks such as The Ancient of Days and Newton. His unique approach and innovative ideas were inspired by a complex mind which did not entirely suit the ways of his time. Today, he is considered a brilliant man who achieved more than most across his productive seventy years and he is placed within the very highest ranks of British art history, with an influence which stretched far beyond the boundaries of his own country.