John Martin, Bridge over Chaos

Bridge over Chaos, 1826

John Martin (1789 - 1854)

RA Collection: Art

This plate illustrates a passage in book 10, lines 312-47 of the poem, which describes the new bridge across Chaos which presented Satan with a new way to pass between heaven and hell.

John Milton's epic poem Paradise Lost, which narrated the Creation and Fall of Adam and Eve, and spanned Heaven, Hell and Paradise, was a suitably epic undertaking to inspire some of John Martin's most important prints. In around 1824 the young publisher Septimus Prowett commissioned Martin to produce a series of mezzotint illustrations to Paradise Lost, for which he was paid the enormous sum of 2,000 guineas.

The prints were first published by subscription, in twelve monthly parts each containing two mezzotints and a section of text which could eventually be bound together to create a complete illustrated volume. The final parts appeared in 1827 (hence the publication dates on the prints, which range from 1825 to 1827).

The impressions in the RA are used to illustrate a later 1846 edition published by Charles Whittingham, meaning that either new impressions were printed from the plates, or earlier impressions were bought up and bound in with the text.

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Object details

Bridge over Chaos
John Martin (1789 - 1854)
Published by
Septimus Prowett (before 1820 - 1867)
Object type
Place of Publication

151 mm x 193 mm

Royal Academy of Arts
Object number
This image is from a book

The paradise lost of John Milton ; with 24 illustrations by John Martin - London: 1846

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