Instructed by Cromwell, the blind Milton dictates to Andrew Marvell a letter to the Duke of Savoy protesting against the persecution of the Vaudois (Waldenses) in the valleys of Piedmont in 1655. To the left of the picture is the blind poet, John Milton, who sits facing the spectator. Behind him is an elaborately carved organ. He wears a black gown, a brown jerkin with slashed sleeves and doublet, a white shirt with a large collar and cuffs, blue-green leggings and leather slippers. He sits with his left leg crossed over his right, his right index finger raised. His other hand is gesturing, as he dictates a letter. In the background, on the right, is a large, empty stone fireplace, decorated with a portcullis on one side and a fleur-de-lys on the other. In front of it sits Andrew Marvell, his quill pen poised. He has dark hair and a small moustache, and wears a red velvet overcloak with slashed sleeves, a white shirt with a large collar and cuffs, and red leggings. The wooden table at which he writes is carved around the edge and on the legs. On it is a square silver ink-well and a wooden handled seal. Oliver Cromwell sits perched on the edge of the table in the foreground, the upper part of his body turned toward Milton. He is bareheaded, and has light-coloured, shoulder length hair, a moustache and a tuft of hair on his chin. He wears a breastplate, and has a scarlet sash and a gold medal on a chain. He has a white sash around his waist and wears dark leggings, thigh-length boots and spurs. In his gloved left hand he holds his right glove and a piece of paper. His right index finger rests on the part of the coloured map of France marked 'Piemont', which rests on the edge of the table. In the bottom right-hand corner is a chair, on which some papers rest. One of these is a document which reads: 'Declaration of his Highness with the advice of his council inviting the people of England and Wales to a day of solemn fasting and humiliation'. This painting is dated one year later than the Manchester picture which comes from the Henry Bodington Collection. Ours, from the Albert Wood Collection, is the artist’s replica of the Manchester picture. Since the work of outstanding painters of the nineteenth is so inadequately represented at the Castle, this picture is an acquisition of particular importance.
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