Satan viewing the ascent to Heaven, from John Milton, Paradise Lost, Book 3, line 501
37.4 cm x 27.6 cm (14 3/4 in. x 10 7/8 in.)
(Haydon Bridge (Northumberland), England, 1789 - 1854, Douglas (Isle of Man))
Medium and Support:
Mezzotint and drypoint with rocker
Blanton Museum of Art, The University of Texas at Austin, Purchase through the generosity of the Still Water Foundation, 1996
From afar, Satan scowls at the sight of angels ascending the stairs of heaven, enveloped in extraordinary formations of clouds. Milton writes that they “ascend by degrees, magnificent” with a “frontispiece of diamond and gold embellished.” Heaven and its entry are “inimitable on earth by model, or by shading pencil, drawn.” Martin takes on the challenge and succeeds in rendering what Milton proclaims impossible: the sublime transition from earth to heaven.