MILTON, John. The Poetical Works. London: Bickers and Son, 1875.
8vo., in the original publisher's binding of full red morocco, with decorative gilt borders, corner and centrepieces, spine lined in gilt with gilt lettering and five raised bands, gilt devices in compartments, gilt turn-ins and marbled endpapers; a.e.g; with a frontispiece portrait of the author and title printed in red and black; complete with 24 illustrations by John Martin on heavy stock; pp. [vii], iv-687, [iii]; corners a touch bumped, spine a little sunned and rubbed; evidence of a sticker being removed from the front paste-down; contemporary ownership inscription to front flyleaf; internally lovely and fresh, ribbon marker detached but present.
An early edition of Milton's works, with a collection of impressive and atmospheric albumen prints from mezzotint engravings by John Martin. This edition also contains a life of Milton.
Martin's engravings were commissioned in 1824 by the publisher Septimus Prowett, and sold to subscribers in stages between 1825 and 1827. Twenty-four of them were then printed, alongside the poem, in a large two-volume edition of 1827. His interpretations of Paradise Lost were heavily influenced by 19th-century industrial Britain, with The Bridge over Chaos (Book 10, ll. 312 and 347) remeniscent mine-shaft, while Pandemonium and The Courts of God (Book 3, l. 365) have strong architectural elements. Some critics admired the wild, dramatic grandeur of Martin’s scenes, while others felt he diminished the vital role played by the central characters of the poem in his dipictions.