‘Adam and Eve Driven Out of Paradise’. Mezzotint by John Martin. 7 x 9 inches. The obvious precedent here is Masaccio’s version of the Expulsion in the Brancacci Chapel, Santa Maria del Carmine, Florence (1425). Martin’s figures display melodramatic gestures that amplify Masaccio’s, although it is interesting to note that Martin’s figures, though tiny and vulnerable, are dressed rather than nude. The world outside Eden is a sort of grim, subterranean space, closed in by craggy rock, immersed in darkness and populated by menacing animals such as the Biblical serpent slithering to the right of the composition: another version of Hell. A jagged bolt of lightning, Martin’s usual sign of Jehohav’s displeasure, fractures the design and adds another layer of febrile excess that stretches the limits of Romantic aesthetics. [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. London: Prowett, 1827.
Created 10 October 2021