Oil on canvas
Framed: 168.5 x 242.5 x 9.5 cm (66 5/16 x 95 1/2 x 3 3/4 in.); Unframed: 146 x 221 cm (57 1/2 x 87 in.)
Mr. and Mrs. William H. Marlatt Fund 1972.119
Linnell was an extremely versatile artist who worked in oils and watercolors, painted miniatures on ivory, and was skilled as an engraver.
This painting powerfully illustrates changes in taste over time. Before it was even completed, the painting was purchased for the considerable sum of £1,000 by a newly wealthy industrialist who admired John Linnell’s modern approach to religious subjects. In 1913, however, the painting was sold at auction for only £130. Victorian painting had fallen out of favor among collectors who did not appreciate Linnell’s hotly colored landscapes that combined biblical stories and poetry (in this case Milton’s Paradise Lost) with close study of the English landscape. Linnell was also known for financially supporting the destitute and elderly William Blake, whose mesmerizing painting of Saint Matthew is in the museum's collection.
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