‘The Courts of God’, 1827. Mezzotint engraved by John Martin. 7 x 9 inches. This image illustrates the lines in Paradise Lost, beginning ‘Up to a wall of heaven a structure high’ (Book 3: line 503). The design exemplifies Martin’s treatment of the Sublime, uniting a vast scale reaching into the far distance with diminutive figures, expressive skies and dramatic light effects. The contrast between the angels’ angular wings, illuminated in blinding light, and the surrounding darkness, is especially impressive and well-managed. The design was intended to express power and does so with a dream-like intensity. [Click on image to enlarge it.]

Image capture and text by Simon Cooke. You may use this image without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the photographer and (2) link to this URL in a web document or cite it in a print one.


Milton, John. Paradise Lost. With mezzotints by John Martin. Issued in parts 1825–7, and in book form, London: Prowett, 1827.

Created 10 October 2021