John Martin, Pandemonium

The Leicester Galleries

Date: 1841
Technique: Oil on canvas, 184.10 x 123.20cm

Pandemonium is based on the mezzotint of the same subject, published in 1824, which Martin produced as one of a series of illustrations to Paradise Lost. It depicts the passage from Book 1 beginning:

Anon out of the earth a fabric huge
Rose like an exhalation, with the sound
Of dulcet symphonies and voices sweet,
Built like a temple, where pilasters round
Were set, and Doric pillars overlaid with golden architrave...

Despite the thoroughly nineteenth century character of the architecture as a whole (as it were, Carlton House Terrace crossed with Fonthill Abbey), Martin closely follows Milton’s description of the Palace of Hell, including the starry lamps and blazing cressets fed / With Naptha and Asuphaltus.


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