Greco's Ghosts

Art. History. Culture.

Paradise Lost Was Actually Written by a Girl

While on a brief excursion to Chicago last weekend I dropped by the Art Institute for a few hours. I discovered a particular work by Henry Fuseli that caused me to linger for quite a while. With subject matter related to yet another one of those epics that I haven’t read, Henry Fuseli’s Milton Dictating to his Daughter definitely caused me to do a double-take.

Fuseli is one of those painters who could convey Romanticism, a genre concerned with melancholy as well as the sublime, not only in vast spaces but also in intimate scenes. While Romanticism was often associated with grandeur and the immensity of nature, it was also an important movement in literature and overall intellectual culture characterized by intense emotion. Fuseli, a Swiss-born English painter, is one of the most fascinating romantics because of his ability to convey intense emotion through light and atmosphere. His ingenious use of perspective cannot be ignored either.

Henry Fuseli (Swiss-born English), Milton Dictating to his Daughter, 1794, oil on canvas, 121.2 x 118.7 cm, Art Institute of Chicago.

Click image to enlarge. Henry Fuseli (Swiss-born English), Milton Dictating to his Daughter, 1794, oil on canvas, 121.2 x 118.7 cm, Art Institute of Chicago.

Milton Dictating to his Daughter is part of a series of works Fuseli painted about the life of 17th century English poet John Milton, author of the epic poem Paradise Lost. In this work, Fuseli paints the blind poet seated in a dim room. The only surroundings are the large, throne-like chair in which Milton is seated, and his two daughters, one seated against the wall working on her sewing and the other standing in front of them leaning against a podium upon which rests a book that she is writing in. A brightness is shown in the two girls through their light clothing, fair skin, pink lips, rosy cheeks and matching red shoes. Their father, on the other hand, is less illuminated and immersed in greyness. Milton is entirely garbed in grey clothing, a shade that also shows in his sunken face making him seem almost corpse-like were it not for his contrastingly ruddy colored hands. His milky unseeing eyes are open wide, his hands folded and his legs crossed in a pose that recalls traditional artistic depictions of melancholic genius. He leans back in his chair and calmly dictates the words of Paradise Lost to his daughter. Meanwhile, we can’t help but wonder how long they’ve been at it because of the standing girl’s tired posture and unenthusiastic tilt of her head. The source of light in the room is unknown but comes from above the trio of figures and rests directly on the standing girl. The light, in particular, rests on the girl’s pen-holding hand and arm, suggesting the most important subjects of this painting are the words being dictated onto the page.

Fuseli’s work favors the supernatural, an element that is sensed even in this real life subject because of the intense emotional atmosphere and ghostly quality of its main protagonist. He exaggerates the drama with strongly contrasting light and empty spaces with little disruption coming other objects, figures, or scenic elements. Here, Fuseli refers to the darkness of Milton’s great work, Paradise Lost, but also honors it as the grand idea that it was.

Advertisements

24 comments on “Paradise Lost Was Actually Written by a Girl

  1. Surazeus Simon Seamount
    March 3, 2014

    The proper title would be “Paradise Lost Was Actually Transcribed by a Girl”

    Also, his daughters refused to continue at some point, and Milton turned to several other male friends to help him finish the work.

    Like

    • bixbyz10
      March 3, 2014

      Thank you for your correction. Readers should understand, however, that the title of this post is merely an attempt at humorous bemusement and not a serious assertion that someone other than Milton wrote Paradise Lost.

      Like

  2. offers london
    August 26, 2014

    I want to express my affection for your generosity
    supporting people who actually need guidance on this particular
    idea. Your personal dedication to getting the message all through has
    been incredibly productive and has all the time encouraged workers
    like me to realize their goals. The important advice means a great deal a person like me and even further to my fellow
    workers. Thank you; from everyone of us.

    Like

  3. ninja kamas
    August 29, 2014

    Awesome blog! Do you have any tips and hints for aspiring writers?
    I’m hoping to start my own site soon but I’m a little lost
    on everything. Would you suggest starting with a free platform like WordPress or go for
    a paid option? There are so many options
    out there that I’m totally overwhelmed .. Any recommendations?

    Thank you!

    Like

  4. wholesome weight
    August 30, 2014

    I do nnot even know howw I ended uup here, but I thought this post was good.

    I don’t know who you are but definitely you are going to a
    famous blotger if you aren’t already 😉 Cheers!

    Like

  5. bowstaff
    September 1, 2014

    What made us happy once may not have the same effect a second time and so we change our requirements.

    As an experiment, maybe the next time you do a form, try modifying it using
    something else in your house. You can certainly look through your yellow pages to
    find schools close to you or ask people you know if they know of any schools.

    Like

  6. Each game has already set records for being obsessed with this amazing gadget.

    The gadget has been becoming an Admin from Belgium who has written HTML.
    From the moment it is simply another platform and is feeling the
    need for a longer time. When playing the games available,
    there are thousands of games that require increased
    phone memory or advanced graphics capabilities. Increased
    use of a massive increase in the decade’s development history of handheld gaming device in their SDK software development company is to be an expert in web sphere.

    Like

  7. Valarie
    September 8, 2014

    hello!,I like your writing very much! proportion we be in contyact extra approximately yolur post on AOL?
    I need a specialist in this house to solve
    mmy problem. Maybe that is you! Having a ook ahead to peer you.

    Like

  8. Good information. Lucky me I came across your website by accident (stumbleupon).

    I have book marked it for later!

    Like

  9. Pingback: Horror in October: The Rebel Angels | Greco's Ghosts

  10. garden sheds uk
    October 8, 2014

    Great blog! Is your theme custom made or did you download it from somewhere?
    A design like yours with a few simple adjustements would
    really make my blog jump out. Please let me know where you
    got your design. Thanks a lot

    Like

  11. verse app
    October 8, 2014

    Hello, of course this paragraph is genuinely fastidious and I have learned lot
    of things from it about blogging. thanks.

    Like

  12. facebook hacking tricks
    October 9, 2014

    excellent issues altogether, you simply received a new reader.

    What would you suggest in regards to your put up that
    you made some days in the past? Any certain?

    Like

  13. indexara
    October 9, 2014

    Yo agregaría asimismo que no abonar la cuota de servicio es una razón para suspender la cuenta y es probable
    que si muchas personas te bloquean ( diez consejos para privacidad en WhatsApp ),
    terminen suspendiendo la cuenta (por pura lógica).

    Like

  14. august birthstone
    October 11, 2014

    It was august birthstone square Morganite UsesBeryls of every Irish Ring in?
    Perhaps surprisingly, besides the well known transparent
    variety, they believed the clear, green and wasoften mistaken as emerald.
    You can tend to be naturally happy. The tradition of wearing
    birthstones is thought to protect its bearer from disaster and evil thoughts, and so invest in a
    variety of beryl, which is used for calming emotions and calms passions.

    Like

  15. Bollywood Chatakka News
    October 11, 2014

    Really when someone doesn’t be aware of after that its up to
    other visitors that they will assist, so here it
    takes place.

    Like

  16. pengobatan kanker buah zakar
    October 15, 2014

    Hi! I’ve been reading your site for some time now and finally
    got the courage to go ahead and give you a shout out
    from Humble Tx! Just wanted to tell you keep up the excellent job!

    Like

  17. web design
    October 16, 2014

    Excellent pieces. Keep posting such kind of information on your blog.

    Im really impressed by it.
    Hey there, You have performed a fantastic job.
    I’ll definitely digg it and in my opinion recommend to my friends.
    I am sure they’ll be benefited from this site.

    Like

  18. free hay day
    November 24, 2014

    Likewise, buying collective goods in bunches and also selling them
    off individually for higher costs is a great company technique
    in this video game. One more impressive cheat for
    Hay Day is that you keep discovering various other customers ranches for
    big toolboxes. Touch these tool kits for 3 times and then they will open as
    well as load you with numerous tools and also rubies.

    Like

  19. Everette
    November 25, 2014

    I have read so many articles regarding the blogger lovers but this piece
    of writing is in fact a pleasant piece of writing, keep it up.

    Like

  20. website More Info
    December 26, 2014

    You are the next best point so follow the hacks
    directions below as well as appreciate our Archeage Hack totally free!

    Like

  21. What’s up, constantly i used to check blog posts here early in the dawn, as i like to gain knowledge of
    more and more.

    Like

  22. drone Shadow strike cheats
    August 18, 2015

    Attractive part of content. I just stumbled upon your web site and in accession capital to
    say that I acquire in fact loved account your blog posts.
    Any way I’ll be subscribing on your augment and even I fulfillment you get right of entry
    to constantly fast.

    Like

  23. most beautiful boy in pakistan
    September 19, 2015

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Enter your email address to follow Greco's Ghosts and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Archives

%d bloggers like this: