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Milton in the Long Restoration$
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Blair Hoxby and Ann Baynes Coiro

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780198769774

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198769774.001.0001

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‘In the Dun Air Sublime’

‘In the Dun Air Sublime’

Milton, the Richardsons, and the Invention of Aesthetic Categories

(p.69) 4 ‘In the Dun Air Sublime’
Milton in the Long Restoration

Blair Hoxby

Oxford University Press

Jonathan Richardson’s reading of Milton prepared him to be the first author to write a theory of the sublime in the fine arts. Conversely, his preoccupations as a collector and connoisseur not only armed him to defend the authority of the first edition of Paradise Lost, they made both father and son acutely alive to the visual qualities of Milton’s verse. Yet because the Richardsons took Milton seriously as a pictorial poet and graphic artist, they were acutely aware of the indeterminate manner of Milton’s most sublime imagery. This insight was consequential to the history of aesthetic thought. For the Richardsons ensured that Milton would become a crucial point of reference in the eighteenth century’s disputes about the limits of poetry and painting, the characteristics of ancient and modern art, and the nature of the sublime.

Keywords:   Paradise Lost, Jonathan Richardson, sublime, Richard Bentley, Michelangelo, Lessing, Winckelmann, connoisseurship, drawing, pictorial imagination

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