Darkness visible


Pandemonium by John Martin (1841).

Happy birthday to John Milton, 400-years-old today.


“High on a throne of a royal state, which far / Outshone the wealth of Ormus and of Ind” by Gustave Doré (1866).

Elsewhere on { feuilleton }
The etching and engraving archive

Previously on { feuilleton }
Chiaroscuro II: Joseph Wright of Derby, 1734–1797
Angels 4: Fallen angels
Death from above
The apocalyptic art of Francis Danby

7 thoughts on “Darkness visible”

  1. “Better to be a master in Hell than a servant in Heaven”.
    Yeah. Well, I’m not sure I want to sell my soul, but, probably, I wouldn’t mind renting it for a while, depending of ‘the piece of the action…’
    Well, I don’t know. But Milton, 400 years, and we’re still thinking about some of his mottoes… and searching for a ‘Paradis Perdue’.

  2. Many art critics–and I believe people at the time–have pointed out that Martin’s infernal city bears a close resemblance to the Houses of Parliament when viewed from the south bank of the Thames. There’s a hint in the background of a vast dome whose presence is probably confirmed by another Martin painting. A shame there aren’t any decent reproductions of that one. I have one in a book but I’d have to damage the spine to scan it.

  3. Another thing worth pointing out about the “Thames” painting is that the big Wikipedia version allows you to get a sense of the outlandish scale of those infernal ramparts: just locate the crowd being hailed in the lake of fire then follow the train of tiny figures into the distance…

  4. That latter one is among my favorites of his. Its reproduction adorns many items that are difficult to scan; a few fold-outs from John Zorn albums, old esoteric magazines and what have you. Some ‘old school’ black metal bands like Emperor made use of much of Dore’s work, but none that I know of touched Martin’s. It may be just as well, that is a genre littered with too many passable bands who seem to think the nature of the sound means you don’t have to have any talent (note, I most certainly don’t think that about Emperor).

    Ideally interesting art should mean interesting music. This is too often not the case.

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