John Milton's Paradise Lost, Satan and the Birth of Sin (Book II, 746-758) Painting no. 6 from The Milton Gallery

MAKER:
Artist

Johann Heinrich Fuseli ( Swiss, active in England, 1741 - 1825 )

DATE:
1771–1799
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General Description

This painting by Johann Heinrich Fuseli is a quintessential example of the themes that preoccupied many artists during the last decades of the 18th century and beginning of the 19th century, with the dawning of romanticism. Centered upon the sharply lit sculptural anatomy of the enthroned Satan, this dramatic painting depicts the astonishing moment of the birth of Sin, who bursts forth from Satan’s head like Athena from Zeus. The subject is from Book II of John Milton’s poem, Paradise Lost, lines 746–758:

All on a sudden miserable pain

Surprised thee, dim thine eyes, and dizzy swum

In darkness, while thy head flames thick and fast

Threw forth, till on the left side opening wide,

Likest to thee in shape and countenance bright,

Then shining heavenly fair, a goddess armed,

Out of thy head I sprung. Amazement seized...

Adapted from

Dorothy Kosinski, DMA label copy, 1997.

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