1/28/11

John Martin, Paradise Lost - Creation of Light (Book 7)


National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa

Date: 1824
Technique: Mezzotint on laid paper, 25.4 x 35.3 cm

One of Martin's masterpieces, and a highpoint of the Paradise Lost series, Martin depicts the moment when God creates the Light of Heaven, and divides the Night from the Day.

Martin produced an oil painting of The Creation of Light at the same time as the two mezzotints for Paradise Lost; the oil painting is now lost. But when it was shown in 1825. Martin received quite a bit of criticism from those who were outraged to find God depicted at all. One review dismissed the painting as "absurd beyond all conception," and another commentator found it "the grossest of all gross ideas to make the power and essence of the Creator depend on size." Martin was not dissuaded -- indeed was probably more encouraged by the fact the painting was sold for 2000 guineas, the highest price he ever received for a single work -- and used the same image in Paradise Lost. Opinion was soon to change, so that by the early 1900s the work was described as "one of the most extraordinary conceptions of a great visionary."

Source 1
Source 2

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