Collection Online
Milton, when a youth
oil on canvas
128.0 × 103.0 cm
Accession Number
International Painting
Credit Line
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Purchased, 1981
This digital record has been made available on NGV Collection Online through the generous support of Digitisation Champion Ms Carol Grigor through Metal Manufactures Limited
Gallery location
19th Century European Paintings Gallery
Level 2, NGV International
This painting was one of the forty works Fuseli exhibited in London (1799–1800) as the ‘Milton Gallery’. The majority of these paintings were of subjects from the poet John Milton’s Paradise Lost (1667). This painting is based on a legend which relates that, when a student, Milton fell asleep under a tree. In due course a young foreign woman paused near him to write in pencil two lines of Italian verse on a slip of paper, which she left him. He was never to see her, but said this episode inspired him to compose Paradise Lost.


Reproduction, 2000, based on a frame contemporary with the painting

The former framing of Fuseli Milton, when a youth, c.1796-99, was made in 1981, at the time of acquisition (the painting was acquired unframed). A file card notes the frame being made from ‘Australian red pine. Silver gilded and artificially patinated.’ It is a hybrid style with no apparent historical precedent or relationship to the frames Fuseli may have used. (above)
Considerable research was undertaken, starting in 1998, to determine a new frame for the Fuseli.
Correspondence with the John Soanes Museum, London, the Royal Academy, London and Tate Gallery, London, sought to resolve a prototype for the frame, based on an original framing of a Fuseli from a similar date.
The frame chosen to reproduce for the NGV painting came from a Fuseli in Tate Gallery, ‘The Shepherds Dream’.
The frame, hand carved in timber and gilded with 23.5 carat gold, was made in London. (top)
The frame was fitted to the painting in 2000.

Reproduction - commissioned by the NGV

Jelutong, European lime, Quebec Yellow pine and 23.5 carat gold leaf.