William Godwin's Diary


Sir Robert Ker Porter (also known as Reynold Steinkirk) (1777–1842) was a friend of Henry Aston Barker and contributed to the British public's preoccupation with the fashionable Panorama by painting this historical scene which depicted The Taking of Seringapatam in the fourth Mysore War. The picture covered 2550 square feet and contained an impressive 700 life-size figures. Thomas Frognall Dibdin expounded, ‘The oriental dress, the jeweled turban, the curved and ponderous scimitar – these were among the prime objects with Sir Robert’s pencil: and he touched and treated them to the very spirit and letter of the truth…the public poured in by hundreds and thousands for even a transient gaze…you carried it home, and did nothing but think of it, talk of it, and dream if it. And all this by a young man of NINETEEN!’

Altick, Richard D., The Shows of London (Cambridge, Mass: Belknap Press, 1978) and DNB.

Following suit after Boydell's preceding Shakespeare Gallery project (see, for example, 10 March 1791), the Milton Gallery was a cycle of forty-one large scale paintings produced and exhibited at Pall-Mall by Henry Fuseli, RA (1741 – 1825) depicting the life and works of the poet John Milton. A year later, Fuseli exhibited a second, larger exhibition with forty-seven works. Although the endeavour was not a commercial success at the time, the paintings were noted for their Michaelangesque figures and evocation of the sublime. A complete list of works exhibited in 1799 may be found in: The Times, 1 June 1799.

See also DNB and Luisa Calè, Fuseli's Milton Gallery: 'turning Readers into Spectators' (Oxford, 2006).