Julius Bloch, I Will Lift Up Mine Eyes to the Hills

Julius Bloch: I Will Lift Up Mine Eyes to the Hills (Undated) Lithography
Title
I Will Lift Up Mine Eyes to the Hills
Date
Undated
Medium
Lithography
Credit Line
Museum purchase, Charles Knox Smith Fund, 2004
Dimensions
13 1/4 x 6 5/8 in.

With the first line written beneath his image, Julius Bloch’s lithograph refers to Psalm 121:

I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.
My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth.
He will not suffer thy foot to be moved: he that keepeth thee will not slumber.
Behold, he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.
The Lord is thy keeper: the Lord is thy shade upon thy right hand.
The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night.
The Lord shall preserve thee from all evil: he shall preserve thy soul.
The Lord shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore.

Since the colonial era, abolitionist writers turned to Psalm 121 as proof of God’s protection for enslaved people. In his rendering, Bloch presents a shirtless black man with his eyes lifted “unto the hills,” seeking relief from God. His body is elongated, with exaggerated upper musculature; his arms hang limply at his sides. Behind him, dramatic lighting evokes the divine.

Bloch fostered a close relationship with the African American community. He was the first white artist to exhibit with the black professional Pyramid Club and regularly took black figures as his subjects. The Negro History Bulletin credited him for “the intensity of his psychological character studies of the Negro.”

 

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