This scene from Matthew's gospel depicts the pale Madonna as a lovely figure, full of dignity and strange, delicate beauty.

The kneeling Kings are noble in design and splendid in colour, and the note of cool grey in the starlit night with its sky of silvery blue relieves and enriches the glowing hues of the principal group. This painting is part of a collection of works by William Blake belonging to the late Graham Robertson and was included in his sale at Christie's in 1949. Graham Robertson, painter, author and theatrical designer, was widely known as a Blake collector. At his death in 1948 he bequeathed 4 Blakes to the Nation; the rest of the collection was to be disposed of by auction. He had, however, left a very considerable estate to be given to charities. This allowed his Executors to instruct the auctioneers that some of the drawings should be acquired for certain museums up to defined limits. In this way 20 works, totalling £40,281 were given by the Executors, through the Art Fund, to 6 public collections.

Provenance

From the collection of Graham Robertson.


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