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Oil painting - Adam listening to the voice of God the Almighty
  • Adam listening to the voice of God the Almighty
    Martin, John
  • Enlarge image

Adam listening to the voice of God the Almighty

  • Object:

    Oil painting

  • Place of origin:

    Great Britain (painted)

  • Date:

    ca. 1823-ca. 1827 (painted)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Martin, John (artist)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Oil on canvas

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

John Martin, a Romantic painter known for his vast biblical and literary scenes of destruction, was commissioned in 1823 to execute 24 mezzotint illustrations for a new edition of Milton's Paradise Lost. Given his strong attraction to the narrative of the Fall of Man, the publisher Septimus Prowett must have considered him a natural choice for the project. Martin had never produced mezzotints before (although he would become reknowned for his work in this medium), and his roots as a painter are apparent in his decision to make a preparatory oil sketch for each print, of which this painting is one. The set of oil sketches was rediscovered by the collector and dealer Robert Frank in 1951.

Physical description

An oil sketch showing the tiny figures of Adam and Eve covering themselves in shame in the midst of a grove of mighty oaks.

Place of Origin

Great Britain (painted)


ca. 1823-ca. 1827 (painted)


Martin, John (artist)

Materials and Techniques

Oil on canvas


Height: 47.5 cm estimate, Width: 68.5 cm estimate, :

Object history note

Purchased from W J F Wing, 1969.

Provenance: Robert Frank 1951; Thomas Laughton, Sotheby's 18.3.1964, lot 69 (one of 24: lots 51-74).

Historical significance: In 1823, John Martin was commissioned to produce 24 mezzotint illustrations for the publisher Septimus Prowett's edition of Milton's Paradise Lost. Eventually four separate editions were published, as well as issues of proofs and prints without letterpress. It was the first mezzotint project Martin undertook, and, no doubt because painting was his usual medium, he produced preparatory oil sketches for the prints, of which this painting is one. The set was discovered by the dealer and collector Robert Frank in 1951.

Martin, renowned for his vast scenes of (usually biblical and literary) destruction, was strongly attracted to the story of Adam and Eve, having exhibited a large painting of the Expulsion from Paradise at the British Institute in 1813. Three of his mezzotints for Prowett, including this one, centre on this narrative. This painting illustrates Book 10, line 108 of Paradise Lost.

Descriptive line

Oil painting entitled 'Adam Listening to the Voice of the Almighty', by John Martin. Great Britain, ca. 1823-1827.

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Catalogue of British Oil Paintings 1820-1860, Ronald Parkinson, Victoria and Albert Museum, London: HMSO, 1990, p. 187-188
no. 197
Festival of Britain, 1951 : Exhibition recording Tyneside's contribution to art : pictorial and decorative, Newcastle, Laing Art Gallery and Museum, 1951


Oil paint; Canvas


Oil painting




Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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