When I saw the painting I imagined Jacob's watch hitting the steel handrail as he walks up and down endlessly, as though stuck in purgatory in a bubble-gum theme park.
Jacob descending is one of Smart’s most dreamlike images. It presents the double helix of a red spiral staircase containing a suited male figure. Jacob’s ladder also appears in the Christian Book of Genesis, as a symbol of the connection between Heaven and Earth. It is also likely that Smart was familiar with the English artist and poet William Blake’s image of Jacob’s dream (c 1805) in the British Museum, which includes a spiral staircase.