John Martin

In Apocalyptic, Art on January 22, 2012 at 4:06 pm

The Great Day of His Wrath‘ 1851 – 1853 by English Romantic painter John Martin above was featured in a recent exhibition hosted by Tate Britain. The exhibition entitled ‘Apocalypse’ was dedicated to Martin’s body of work, which was famous for it’s apocalyptic, epic and sometimes biblical content. Back in the day, people flocked to see these massive pieces- they almost treated it as a form of entertainment as it had such ‘blockbuster’ energy. Many critics were skeptical however, and even described it as ‘sensationalistic’ and repetitive.

Beautifully executed, there is no doubt that Martin was a skilled painter, on top of being the King of Mezzotint. The sheer size of his more popular pieces is staggering (especially ‘The Last Judgement’ triptych) and if that did not take your breath away, the content will.

The exhibition was well curated and succinct, providing insightful explanations about Martin’s style. It is small in comparison to most exhibitions held by Tate. However, at the end, you feel as if you have finished watching a full length feature film. What a visual feast it was and a breath of fresh air to see cataclysmic disaster executed in such a traditional painterly way, in an age where anything ‘blockbuster’ could be rendered at a click of a button.

The Fall of Babylon, Mezzotint with etching, John Martin

The Expulsion of Adam and Eve from Paradise, Oil on canvas, John Martin.

Belshazzar’s Feast, Oil on canvas, John Martin.

The exhibition just ended, however look to Tate Britain’s Apocalypse section- for a more detailed look into Martin’s world. To end off, they also created an amazing ‘trailer’ to promote the exhibition which is located below.


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