- Museum number
Illustration to 'Paradise Lost'; a group of five figures at left, a naked figure in the centre foreground climbs rocks towards two further figures at r
- Production date
Height: 166 millimetres
Width: 248 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- Title according to Christie's sale catalogue 12.vii.37 lot 69, which contained 1937-10-8-12 to 17 which all show remains of binding on the left, indicating that they have been removed from a sketchbook.
See 1937,1008.16, 1937,1008.17, 1937,1008.15, 1937,1008.13 and 1937,1008.12 for other drawings by George Romney illustrating scenes of Paradise Lost. See also curatorial comment for 1921,0714, a sketchbook of drawings by George Romney, also depicting scenes of Milton's 'Paradise Lost'.
Paradise Lost appears to have been a subject of great interest to Romney in the early 1790’s, at a time when the artist was battling with illness and depression. According to Marcia Pointon, it is likely that this type of work was unknown to his contemporaries, as it differed greatly from his public style.
Romney’s illustrations to Paradise Lost depict an expression of violence and unrest conveying scenes of distress and threatening gestures. Pointon describes such artistic features as a trend throughout the Milton sketches and comments that they are indicative of the manic depression or paranoia that Romney was suffering in his later life. Anne Crookshank makes a similar suggestion in the Burlington Magazine article, stating that Romney was 'upset not only by his health but by events such as the insanity of his friend Cowper, by the death of Gibbon and by the departure of Lady Hamilton for Italy in 1791. Considering his brooding frame of mind, which is evident from his letters to Hayley, it is not surprising that he should have preferred the imagery of Paradise Lost to the Bible. Milton's descriptions of he Hell, Chaos and devils exactly suited his mood.' (See 'The Drawings of George Romney', in The Burlington Magazine, Vol 99.No.647, Feb. 1957, pp. 42-48.)
For more information regarding Romney’s and other British artists illustrations of Paradise Lost, see M.Pointon, ‘ Milton and English Art’, (Manchester,1970), pp.121-127.
- Not on display
- Associated titles
Associated Title: Paradise Lost
- Acquisition date
- Acquisition notes
- This item has an uncertain or incomplete provenance for the years 1933-45. The British Museum welcomes information and assistance in the investigation and clarification of the provenance of all works during that era.
Agnews purchased this drawing at Christie's sale 12.vii.37/69.
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number