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.
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