Since its first illustrated edition rolled off the press in 1688, Paradise Lost has fired the imaginations of artists. Generations of painters, draughtsmen, and printmakers have tried to create a visual equivalent to Milton’s poetry. Between the late seventeenth and early twentieth centuries a flurry of illustrated editions appeared, whose plates very visibly reflected changing artistic tastes. Seventeenth-century artists drew episodes from Paradise Lost with an eye for the emblematic. But by the eighteenth century, painters such as John Martin began to look to Milton’s epic as a storehouse of the Sublime—the rolling vistas of Eden, or the flaming, subterranean crags of Hell.
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