Book 5 Line 136 (Adam and Eve - The Morning Hymn)
ArtistJohn Martin (English; British, 1789 – 1854)
DimensionsSheet : 11 x 14 3/4 in. (27.94 x 37.47 cm)
Plate : 5 3/4 x 8 1/8 in. (14.61 x 20.64 cm)
Credit LineHope College Collection
LabelFirst published in 1667, John Milton’s epic poem Paradise Lost recounts the Biblical story of Adam and Eve’s expulsion from the Garden of Eden. In 1824, London publisher Septimus Prowett commissioned printmaker John Martin to create a set of 24 mezzotint illustrations to accompany a new edition of the text. Although Martin was only 27 years old when he began this project, he was already highly regarded as a technically talented and imaginative artist. Martin used steel plates for his Paradise Lost mezzotints. The use of steel plates for making mezzotints was still relatively new in the early decades of the 19th century. Because steel is much harder than copper, steel plates were more difficult for artists to prepare and engrave, but they were also more durable and could produce a larger number of high-definition images. Martin created two sizes of Paradise Lost illustrations for Prowett, who issued them as individual images between 1825 and 1827, and then in sets bound together with the text in 1827-28. The illustrations proved to be very popular, and the text and images were re-printed at least four times by different publishers over the course of the 19th century.
This image of Adam and Eve surrounded by lush forests and tranquil ponds reflects the Romantic vision of a natural world that has not yet been spoiled by the introduction of agriculture, industry or any other type of human interference. It was made for the smaller-size edition of Paradise Lost published by Prowett in 1827.