William Blake’s Illustrations for Milton’s Paradise Lost, 1808

Satan Arousing the Rebel Angels

William Blake (28 November 1757 – 12 August 1827) created three sets of illustrations for John Milton’s Paradise Lost (1667). There was a commission from the Reverend Joseph Thomas in 1807; another a year later commissioned by the artist’s patron Thomas Butts; and a final series in 1822, commissioned by John Linnell, who also hired Blake to illustrate Dante’s Divine Comedy.

More: William Blake Archive h/t: flashbak

Satan, Sin, and Death: Satan Comes to the Gates of Hell

The first two sets each contained twelve paintings. The Thomas set is in pen and watercolour; the Butts set is more vividly coloured and almost twice the size of the earlier set. The final set was unfinished, with just three images known to have been completed.

Christ accepting the Office of Redeemer (Book 3, l. 227). Satan floats below God and his angels, with a spear in his hand

It’s clear that Blake admired Milton. According to Alexander Gilchrist’s Life of William Blake, ‘Pictor ignotus’ (1863), Butts found Blake and his wife in their summer house in Lambeth, London, nude and reciting parts of the poem. Blake reportedly hailed, “Come in! … It’s only Adam and Eve, you know!”

Satan Watching the Endearments of Adam and Eve

Raphael Warns Adam and Eve

Adam and Eve Asleep

The Rout of the Rebel Angels

The Creation of Eve

The Temptation and Fall of Eve

The Judgment of Adam and Eve: ‘So Judged He Man’

Michael Foretells the Crucifixion

The Expulsion of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden

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