Valentine Green (1739-1813)

Miravan Breaking Open the Tomb of His Ancestors

London, 1772

Mezzotint, third state

528 x 391 mm

Joseph Wright of Derby (1734-1797) painted the original of this work in 1772 and regarded it as one of his finest paintings.

The tale of Miravan was penned by the poet John Gilbert Cooper, who reworked the Greek historian Herodotus’ account of a Persian story. Miravan and his men break open a tomb hoping to find treasure inside. However, for disturbing the dead, Miravan is cursed never be at peace again. Green, soon to be appointed King George III’s primary mezzotint engraver, was quickly hired to copy the painting. His use of mezzotint perfectly captures the effects of the moonlit sky and oil lamps that create the dramatic light in this scene.

Purchased 1998 (No. 98.2)


We show a rotating selection of works on paper in our two dedicated exhibition spaces. If you wish to view a work not currently on display, you can make an appointment to see it in the Prints and Drawings Study Room, which is equipped with lecterns and a study/seminar table.


The study room is open to students, scholars and members of the general public, individually or in small groups, by prior appointment only. The room had tables and chairs to facilitate private study or seminars.


Open Monday to Friday, 10am – 1pm and 2 – 4.30pm

Groups welcome – but limited to 12 people at any one time.


Appointments: or +44 (0)121 414 7350

Related Posts