Martin, John (1789-1854), 'The Ascent of Elijah', Mezzotint with etching, 1824

'The Ascent of Elijah', Mezzotint with etching, 1824

Very rare trial proof before all letters.

The subject was first exhibited at the Royal Society of British Artists, in April 1824, and apparently intended as a companion to Christ Tempted in the Wilderness. They are thought to be the first engravings by the artist on the then new material, soft steel. It is possible that The Ascent of Elijah
was engraved slightly before Christ Tempted in the Wilderness. Both images were released as independent prints. They pre-date the Paradise Lost mezzotints and it is claimed that Martin’s entire, spectacular, mezzotint oevre stemmed from these two works.

The Ascent of Elijah was included in the first group of mezzotints ever to be exhibited, in public, by Martin. After Martin’s initial printing the two subjects were later twice republished by Septimus Prowett. All of these are now extremely rare.

The scene illustrated is taken from the second book of Kings:

"And it came to pass, as they went on, and talked, that, behold,
There appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and parted them
Both asunder: and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven. And
Elisha saw it, and he cried, My father, my father! The chariot of
Israel, and the horseman thereof. And he saw him no more…He
(Elisha), took up also the mantle of Elijah that fell from him…"

Plate size 265 x 222 mm
Reference C.W. 25

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