John Martin (1789-1854): British Romantic

John Martin: Apocalypse is Tate Britain’s major exhibition this fall. After years of critical neglect, Martin is now recognised as a highly original Romantic painter of the sublime. Martin’s work has a close bond with literature; many of his paintings, mezzotints and prints illustrate English writers, notably Paradise Lost (the painting above is (‘Pandenonium’, 1841), Byron’s Manfred, and the King James Bible. H.P. Lovecraft was quick to appreciate Martin’s strange worlds. The painter was

enthralled by the darkly thunderous, apocalyptically majestic, & cataclysmically unearthly power of one who, to me, seemed to hold the essence of cosmic mystery….Night; great desolate pillared halls; unholy abysses & blasphemous torrents; terraced titan cities in far, half-celestial backgrounds whereon shines the light of no familiar sky of men’s knowing; shrieking mortal hordes borne downward over vast wastes & down cyclopean gulfs.

Judge for yourself at Tate Britain until 15 January 2012.

3 thoughts on “John Martin (1789-1854): British Romantic

  1. The painting is 'Pandemonium' (1841), as I mention a few lines down in my post. The title of the exhibition was 'John Martin: Apocalypse'. Its superb catalogue, edited by Martin Myrone (London: Tate Publishing, 2011) may still be available.


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