This painting powerfully illustrates changes in taste over time. Before it was even completed, the painting was purchased for the considerable sum of £1,000 by a newly wealthy industrialist who admired John Linnell’s modern approach to religious subjects. In 1913, however, the painting was sold at auction for only £130. Victorian painting had fallen out of favor among collectors who did not appreciate Linnell’s hotly colored landscapes that combined biblical stories and poetry (in this case Milton’s Paradise Lost) with close study of the English landscape. Linnell was also known for financially supporting the destitute and elderly William Blake.
(Text courtesy of The Cleveland Museum of Art).