Blake was inspired by lines from Macbeth (act 1, scene 7), in which the title character imagines the aftermath of his intended murder of Duncan, the king:
"And pity, like a naked new-born babe, Striding the blast, or heaven’s cherubin, hors’d Upon the sightless couriers of the air, Shall blow the horrid deed in every eye"
Shakespeare’s similes are embodied here to form a dynamic interplay: a tiny baby springs from his mother towards an angel astride a blind steed. The artist inventively mixed relief etching with colors printed from millboard to produce the image, and then used ink and watercolor to define details. Blake called prints like this one "frescoes" and considered them part of a narrative sequence.