John Milton's masque Comus was first presented in 1634 in the Hall of Ludlow Castle, Shropshire, in the presence of John Egerton, Earl of Bridgewater, by his family. The Earl of Bridgewater had been appointed Lord President of Wales in 1631 and the performance was in honour of a visit to Ludlow castle, his official residence. In his poem, for which Henry Lawes composed music, Milton dramaticises the theme of good and evil for the first time contrasting purity and genuine heroism with empty courtly gestures. A virtuous Lady loses her brothers in the forest and meets the evil sorcerer Comus who imprisons her in his palace. The masque celebrates her rejection of his bacchic philosophy and defends virtue and chastity.
John Wood studied at Sass's School and the Royal Academy School, where in 1825 he gained the gold medal for painting. He exhibited at The Royal Academy from 1823 until 1862 showing one hundred and eighteen works there in all. He painted portraits, biblical, historical and literary subjects and his work was highly esteemed by his contemporaries.