John Robert Cozens

Satan Summoning his Legions


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
John Robert Cozens 1752–1797
Watercolour on paper
Support: 288 × 334 mm
Purchased as part of the Oppé Collection with assistance from the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund 1996

Display caption

Cozens's early work generally resembles that of his father, Alexander, by whom he was taught, both in its imaginary content and in the use of monochrome washes. This composition may have been evolved from an ink 'blot' such as Alexander Cozens recommended his pupils to use so as to free their imaginative powers in drawing. However, John Robert Cozens had in fact seen and sketched rock formations and caves during a trip to Matlock in Derbyshire in 1772. This roundel represents a scene from John Milton's epic poem 'Paradise Lost'. Satan has moved to the edge of the sea of fire, and with his upheld spear calls forth his fallen angels. Cozens was one of the earliest artists in Britain to represent Satan in heroic guise.

Gallery label, September 2004

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