Martin, John (1789-1854), 'Creation of Light', Mezzotint, 1824

'Creation of Light', Mezzotint, 1824

Working proof before all letters (working proofs of Martin’s Paradise Lost series are very rare). Signed within the image ‘J. Martin 1824’.

This exceptionally early working proof before all letters shows the figure of God, as first engraved by Martin, depicted with clarity, as in the established manner of many religious paintings. Martin went on to partially obscure the figure of the Creator with further cloud and ethereal light, thus adding a sense of divine mystery to his portrayal of the Almighty.

No earlier proof state has been recorded.

Before further clouds were added in the upper part of the plate, above the figure of God, and the stars at the right of the image were altered.
The title of this work, Creation of Light, is almost the definition of the mezzotint process and there can be no doubt that the subject lent itself perfectly to Martin’s engraving. A superb example of the artist’s skill in this medium, Creation of Light owes little to previous illustrators of Milton. Here, Martin has relied upon the poetry itself create his vision rather than upon earlier pictorial interpretations.

Martin exhibited a large oil painting of this subject, entitled ‘The Creation’, at the Society of British Artists in 1825. Although this painting is now lost, contemporary reviews indicate that it must have been of a very similar design to both of the mezzotint versions.

Plate Size Trimmed within plate
Image Size 19.1 x 27.9 cm
Paper Size 25.6 x 34.7 cm
Reference C.W.41

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