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The Paradise Lost of Milton
London: Septimus Prowett,, 1827. 2 volumes, large octavo (275 x 186 mm). Near-contemporary green half morocco, spines lettered in gilt with gilt tooling on bands and compartments, marbled sides and endpapers, top edges gilt. With 24 mezzotint illustrations by Martin. Spines a little faded, light rubbing to covers, front hinge of vol. I just starting to split but still firm, lightly foxed, slight discolouration to plate facing p. 175 in vol. I. A highly attractive set. First edition in book form, following the publication of the plates in twelve parts from 1825 to 1827. John Martin's Paradise Lost maintains a strong claim to be the finest illustrated edition of the poem ever produced. Already famous as an artist for his bold and melodramatic paintings, Martin was commissioned by Septimus Prowett to turn his talents to Milton. Unlike other artists who were commissioned for book illustration, who generally produced paintings which were then replicated as engravings, Martin produced his illustrations directly as mezzotints. The possibilities of mezzotints, which allow far greater detail and experimentation with lighting than usual steel engravings, were fully exploited by Martin, and in turn Paradise Lost "was ideal material for Martin, who echoed Milton's solemnity while opening out his cadences in the imagery of groves and chases bathed in silvery light and an underworld where fires tongue the darkness and bridges span nothingness and Satan's armies infest the gloom. In mezzotint Martin's vision thrived" (ODNB). Martin engraved the plates in both large and small formats and issued the work in various sizes, with Ray counting a total of eight different known formats for the work; the present octavo format was the standard issue. Provenance: The Cory family in Norfolk, with the presentation inscription to vol. I – "J. P. Cory. A tribute of affection & esteem, from his affectionate cousins May 1841", and with the bookplate of C. Cory to both front pastedowns.
      [Bookseller: Peter Harrington]
Last Found On: 2018-02-12           Check availability:      Biblio    


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