Johann Heinrich Füssli (1741–1825) »Satan, Touched by Ithuriel’s Sword«

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Johann Heinrich Füssli (1741–1825)
»Satan, Touched by Ithuriel’s Sword«

1779, Oil on canvas

The theme of this painting is adapted from Book IV of John Milton’s epic poem »Paradise Lost«. Satan, intent upon the destruction of mankind approaches Adam and Eve while they sleep but is recognised by the angel Ithuriel, who touches him with his spear, forcing him to flee.

This monumental work is the first painting of a major Milton series that would occupy Füssli for several decades. It paved the way for his great success in England, where he had arrived in the same year following a journey from Switzerland and an extended stay in Italy.

Füssli’s art delineates the field of conflict between late baroque art in the Age of Enlightenment and neoclassical strivings for renewal. Although he had no students of his own, his highly individualistic and palpably sensual art was the subject of sceptical admiration among many 19th-century artists. [ CB ]

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