John Martin: Painting the Apocalypse

The early Victorian artist John Martin was born in Haydon Bridge, Northumberland, on 19 July 1789.

A devout Christian he drew inspiration for his paintings from his deep understanding of the New Testament, the rugged landscape of his home, and his experience of the great forges and ironworks of nearby Tyneside. Though it was said that there was madness in his family, and indeed his older brother Jonathan was later to be committed to a lunatic asylum.

Extremely popular in his day Martin was courted by Royalty and had a great many prominent patrons, and as a result he was to go from the one bedroom cottage of his birth to become a very wealthy man.

Following his death on 17 February 1854 he very quickly went out of fashion however, and his work was soon being derided for its bombast and absurd theatricality.

Indeed, with his paintings no longer exhibited he became largely forgotten and for many years it was possible to purchase a John Martin original for little more than a few shillings:

martin j deluge

The Deluge

martin j sodom x

The Destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah

martin j great day x

The Great Day of his Wrath

martin j eruption vesuvius x

The Eruption of Vesuvius

martin j 7th plague x

The Seventh Plague of Egypt

martin j macbeth x

MacBeth

martin j satan

Satan

martin j expusion x

Expulsion of Adam and Eve

martin j christ stilleth x

Christ Stilleth the Waters

martin j dest pompeii x

Destruction of Pompeii

martin j pandemonium x

Pandemonium

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