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

blumenthala at kenyon.edu blumenthala at kenyon.edu
Fri Feb 1 13:38:31 EST 2008


At least one English painter of the scene is known. Has anyone yet mentioned
Richard Westall (1765-1836)? His painting of Milton dictating to his daughters
hangs in Sir John Soane's Museum in Lincoln Inn Fields.

Amy Blumenthal


Quoting HANNIBAL HAMLIN <hamlin.22 at osu.edu>:

> 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
>
>
> Hannibal Hamlin
> Associate Professor of English
> The Ohio State University
> Book Review Editor and Associate Editor, Reformation
>
> Mailing Address (2007-2009):
>
> The Folger Shakespeare Library
> 201 East Capitol Street SE
> Washington, DC 20003
>
> Permanent Address:
>
> Department of English
> The Ohio State University
> 421 Denney Hall, 164 W. 17th Avenue
> Columbus, OH 43210-1340
>
> ----- 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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