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Satan Contemplating Adam and Eve in Paradise: Martin 1827

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  • Title: Satan Contemplating Adam and Eve in Paradise
  • Author: John Martin
  • Date: 1827
  • Medium: Mezzotint
  • Condition: Excellent
  • Inches: 10 3/4 x 7 1/2 [Image]
  • Centimeters: 27.31 x 19.05 [Image]
  • Product ID: 4267

From The Paradise Lost of John Milton (pub. 1846), Book 4, Line 501

After gaining entry into the Garden of Eden, Satan conceals himself in order to learn more about God's new creation. While watching Adam and Eve converse with one another, Satan recognizes the affection they have for each other and is overcome by jealously and self-loathing; compared to the happy companionship which God's creation shares, Satan's tormented inner state seems all the more terrible.

"So spake our general mother, and with eyes
Of conjugal attraction unreproved,
And meek surrender, half-embracing leaned
On our first father; half her swelling breast
Naked met his, under the flowing gold
Of her loose tresses hid: he in delight
Both of her beauty, and submissive charms,
Smiled with superiour love, as Jupiter
On Juno smiles, when he impregns the clouds
That shed Mayflowers; and pressed her matron lip
With kisses pure: Aside the Devil turned
For envy; yet with jealous leer malign
Eyed them askance, and to himself thus plained.
Sight hateful, sight tormenting! thus these two,
Imparadised in one another's arms,
The happier Eden, shall enjoy their fill
Of bliss on bliss; while I to Hell am thrust..." (Paradise Lost IV.492-508)

John Martin (1789-1854) was an English painter and printmaker known for his dramatic and visionary landscapes and apocalyptic scenes. He showed a talent for drawing as a young man and at the age of 17, moved to London with his master, Italian artist Boniface Musso, where he supported himself by giving drawing lessons and painting watercolor. After sending his first oil painting to the Royal Academy, it was not hung and returned to him. The following year he sent the same painting and this time it was hung in the Great Room. Subsequently, he produced a number of large oil paintings, many of them exhibited.

Martin became known for his grand, imaginative landscapes, often depicting biblical or mythological subjects. Some of his most famous works include "The Great Day of His Wrath," "The Last Judgment," and "The Plains of Heaven," which all convey a sense of impending doom and awe-inspiring power.

Martin's work continued to influence artists in the 19th and 20th centuries, and he remains an important figure in the history of British art.