[Milton-L] Re: Trying to Identify a Painting

HANNIBAL HAMLIN hamlin.22 at osu.edu
Fri Feb 1 13:02:29 EST 2008

But I'm not sure the lack of interest in the daughters is the same as a lack of interest in Milton (just old-fashioned misogyny!).  I note that in all three paintings, Milton is pretty easily identifiably -- stereotypical Puritan dress, long locks, blind.  Am I right too that in both Orlai and Delacroix there is an expulsion painting on the wall?  I'm convinced that the subject of these paintings is clearly "Milton Dictating to his Daughters," and the background paintings confirm that what's being composed is Paradise Lost.  Of course, it's no surprise that Milton was popular with the English Romantics (Blake, Shelley, Wordsworth, etc.), but are there any English images of this particular (imagined) scene?  And what (excuse my ignorance) is the history of Milton's reception on the continent?  Are the Hungarian painters actually interested in Milton (was there a translation?), or are they simply painting after Delacroix, who must be the earliest of the three?  But then, I don'
t think this is a particularly well-known Delacroix, so it must be something about the specific subject that appealed to Orlai and Mukascy, which again brings us back to Milton and Hungary.  Was it the figure of the artist (suffering, sublime) that appealed?  Did they like his revolutionary politics?  There seem an interesting bit of cultural history to be dug up here.


Hannibal Hamlin
Associate Professor of English
The Ohio State University
Book Review Editor and Associate Editor, Reformation

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----- Original Message -----
From: Carol Barton <cbartonphd1 at verizon.net>
Date: Friday, February 1, 2008 12:20 pm
Subject: Re: [Milton-L] Re: Trying to Identify a Painting

> Apparently (per the URL from the International Milton Conference),
> "Soma Orlai Petrics (1822-1880) was one of the great Hungarian 
> history 
> painters. His 1862 'Milton dictating Paradise Lost to his 
> daughters' is 
> displayed in Budapest at the Hungarian National Gallery. Orlay's 
> painting 
> inspired Mihály Munkácsy in the creation of his famous 'Milton' 
> (1878 - now 
> in New York)."
> That should at least answer Peter's question (properly)--and 
> suggests part 
> of the answer to your question, too, Hannibal. As I said, I don't 
> think 
> Munkacsy's interest was particularly Miltonic, since his own 
> comments about 
> the painting (which I have somewhere, but not to hand) indicate 
> that he 
> didn't even know the girls' names. Perhaps the curator of the 
> Hungarian 
> National Gallery could be of help, as to the basis for their 
> choice of 
> Milton--and particularly Milton dictating to his daughters--as a 
> subject?
> Best to all,
> Carol Barton
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