Europe, United Kingdom, England
40.1 x 90.9 cm
John Milton about 1800-3 (removed from display)
William Blake 1757-1827
Pen and ink and tempera on canvas
For Blake, Milton (1608-1674) was a symbol
of the poetic and Christian soul of England,
eroded during the 1700s by classical culture.
In his Preface to Milton - a Poem (1804) Blake wrote
'We do not want either Greek or Roman models
if we are but just and true to our own Imaginations.'
These lines are immediately followed
by those which were later put to music
as the popular hymn Jerusalem.
While the head is based on prints by earlier artists,
Blake introduces a serpent with an apple
in reference to Milton's Paradise Lost.