Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The apocalyptic vision (and rotten luck) of John Martin

The art museum of Sheffield, U.K. is currently hosting a retrospective of the paintings of John Martin (1789–1854).

Martin’s grand apocalyptic vision has inspired movie makers and rock ‘n’ rollers for decades. This is the first exhibition of his work for 30 years.

Martin had a lot of bad luck. His father, mother, grandmother and young son all died in a single year. One of his paintings, accepted and hung in the Royal Academy, was destroyed when a careless worker spilled a pot of dark varnish all over it. His painting “Belshazzar’s Feast” was nearly ruined when the carriage transporting it was struck by a train.

The exhibit will continue until September 4 and then move on to the Tate in London.

Museums of Sheffield John Martin exhibition
 Wikipedia on John Martin
Book: John Martin: Apocalypse Now!
John Martin (with lots more links) at Lines and Colors


David Glenn said...

Guess he didn't have a good hope for the future.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if Bierstadt and Church were familiar with Martin's work? There seems to be echoes of Martin in some of their work.

MrCachet said...

Is the top one "The Crossing of the Red Sea"?

Unknown said...

Powerful stuff! Thanks for sharing, Jim.

Unknown said...

Will be visiting for sure- it's just up the road!

ChryssHart said...

I recently picked up your Color and Light book and I was absolutely amazed by how concise and informative it is. I just wanted to stop by here and thank you for sharing your knowledge with all of us. Looking forward to reading Imaginative Realism when it arrives next week.

Russell Dickerson said...

Looking at the couple you posted, I was wondering if he'd been associated with Thomas Cole somehow. I read the Wikipedia article and it mentioned their link. One of my favorite Cole pieces ( is actually a bit unlike his other works, but now seeing the link with Martin that makes perfect sense. Thanks for posting about Martin, another great artist I need to look into.