Monster Art: Ghost of a Flea by William Blake Pins
"The Ghost of a Flea" was created by the famous English poet, artist and philosopher William Blake in 1819. Blake created this image as a small tempera painting with gold leaf on a mahogany panel, 8 7/16 x 6 3/8 in. (21.4 x 16.2 cm). It resides in London's Tate Gallery.
The Metrolpolitan Museum describes "The Ghost of a Flea" this way:
"This striding monster with a man's body and a devil's head appeared to Blake during a séance at the house of his friend John Varley. The bloodthirsty spirit of a tiny flea—the winged creature on the floor between its legs—directs its jutting tongue toward a bowl of blood. Blake based the painting on a pencil sketch of the creature's head and may have intended the stage-like setting as an homage to Varley's astrological interests. Blake preferred his own distinctive tempera technique—labeled beneath the signature as "fresco"—for its translucency, depth, even tones, and clear contours, qualities that have altered somewhat over time."