‘Satan Tempting Eve’, 1827. Mezzotint by John Martin. 7 x 9 inches. This representation of the crucial scene highlights Martin’s strengths and weaknesses as an illustrator. The representation of Eden as a lush arboreal landscape displays his understanding of Romantic notions of the natural world, offering a sort of Platonic original for all nature. On the other hand, his incapacity to visualize intimate drama is demonstrated by his confused treatment of Eve’s encounter with the serpent: far too small in relation to the composition as a whole, it is further muddled by the wooden drawing of Eve’s figure and the lack of differentiation between the coils of the snake and the bough it enwraps. Always working in a major key, Martin is less effective when he deals with nuance or the exchanges of figures in close proximity. [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