Milton Dictated to his Daughters the Paradise Lost Eugene Delacroix Buy Art Prints Now
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Tom Gurney BSc (Hons) is an art history expert with over 20 years experience
Published on June 19, 2020 / Updated on October 14, 2023
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This charming scene of family life was a rare entry into this genre for artist Delacroix, but he had already developed the skills required elsewhere. For example, we see the beautiful display of drapery in the girls' clothing.

An elderly man sits in a comfortable chair, speaking directly to two young girls, presumably his children. They listed intently to his every word, just as the older generation was treated with much more respect during that period of European history. We see a simple but cosy room, perhaps a study, with a large painting on the wall and a small table to his side. One assumes the light eminating from our right hand side would be from a window, through which he is peering. This also allows the artist to brighten up the faces of each figure, whilst behind them the areas of the room are left darker in comparison. They sit upon a thin rug that has perhaps been worn away from persistent use for many years. The whole set up suggests a middle or upper class family for this period, with poorer families probably being unable to afford some of the items included here.

Additionally, the clothing on all three figures is smart and fashionable, but still relatively casual as they remain indoors in the company of close family. They may well have been in much fancier attire had they been out and about on a more formal social occasion. It is intriguing to see into the lives of these people from several centuries ago and the artist is likely to have depicted pretty much what he could see at the time, and would have remained faithful in that regard. There may have been some adjustments or re-arrangement of items in the painting initially by Delacroix, but only small tweaks to balance the painting better. One immediately looks at the content of this scene and wonders if it was a commissioned piece for the family included here? Further research reveals that...

The title of this painting reveals how Milton was speaking the story of Paradise Lost for his daughters who would busily write it down. He was blind and clearly unable to read, so this was the only option available. This piece is not one of the artist's more famous paintings and so not an awful lot of research has been completed on it as yet. However, much can be drawn from related artworks, and also there maybe some discussion of it from Delacroix that has not been translated yet into English. He wrote letters frequently about his work and also kept a personal journal that might also have some detail in it about this work.