‘Visionary, eccentric, populist and epic, John Martin was a controversial but key figure in nineteenth century art. Like his canvases, this wildly dramatic artist with his visions of heaven and hell, was larger than life.’
This what the Tate Modern are saying about John Martin and I have to say I do like his art work. Paintings like ‘Great Day of His Wrath’, ‘The Destruction Sodom and Gomorrah’ and ‘The Fallen Angels Entering Pandemonium’ are awesome paintings.
As I recall The Fallen Angels Entering Pandemonium was used as the cover art of the Nwobhm band Angel Witch for their self titled debut album in 1979.
Martin was born in July 1789 and really started his artistic career painting Heraldic coats of arms but he was soon moved and was placed instead under Boniface Musso, an Italian artist, father of the enamel painter Charles Muss.
Martin and Musso moved from Newcastle to London in 1806 where he married and earned a small income by giving drawing lessons painting in watercolours, china and glass.
Sadly his only surviving painted plate is now in a private collection in England.
Success came in 1811 he sent the painting to the Royal Academy and it was hung under the title ‘A Landscape Composition’ as item no.46 in the Great Room. He then produced a succession of large exhibited oil paintings mainly landscapes but moved towards grand biblical themes inspired by the Old Testament. His first big break came with sale of ‘Sadak in Search of the Waters of Oblivion’ to William Manning MP, a then governor of the Bank of England.
So Tate Britain has organised in partnership with the Laing gallery, Newcastle, this is the first major exhibition dedicated to Martin’s work in over 30 years.
It brings together his most famous paintings of apocalyptic destruction and biblical disaster from collections around the world, as well as previously unseen and newly-restored works.
Admission is £14 and £12 concessions.