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John Martin - The North East’s Greatest Ever Artist

This Incredible Artist was a Geordie

By Mike Singleton - MikeydredPublished 3 years ago 3 min read
The Apocalyptic Art of John Martin

In Newcastle we have the Laing art museum and many years ago there was a tour of the work of John Martin here and at the Tate. You can visit the Laing online here and buy "John Martin: Apocalypse Now!" by Barbara Mordern here.

The thing about John Martin’s art is that often the canvasses are absolutely huge , displaying many biblical apocalyptic scenarios which just left me awestruck. One the concept of planning such a painting then actually putting the paintbrush to canvas.

I put together a YouTube slideshow of some of his work and sond tracked it with “The Four Horsemen '' by Aphrodite's Child from their landmark album''666 `` . The band featured Vangelis on keyboards and Demis Roussos on Vocals but this song is heavy and appropriate.

From Wikipedia

“John Martin (19 July 1789 – 17 February 1854)] was an English Romantic painter, engraver and illustrator. He was celebrated for his typically vast and melodramatic paintings of religious subjects and fantastic compositions, populated with minute figures placed in imposing landscapes. Martin's paintings, and the prints made from them, enjoyed great success with the general public—in 1821 Thomas Lawrence referred to him as "the most popular painter of his day"—but were lambasted by John Ruskin and other critics.”

There is a lot written about John Martin but ask most people and they have never heard of him , maybe because he wasn’t London or Southern based with Ruskin and the like lambasting him.

Stand in front of one of his paintings and you virtually fall into them , they are so huge. And detailed. You can spend hours looking at them and perhaps you can freeze frame the included video and really appreciate his work. Even better watch it on YouTube on you big TV and you can really appreciate it , and if you watch as a video with DTS turned on you are in for an apocalyptic treat.

Belshazzar's Feast

Martin's triumph was “Belshazzar's Feast”, of which he boasted beforehand, "it shall make more noise than any picture ever did before... only don't tell anyone I said so." Five thousand people paid to see it. It was later nearly ruined when the carriage in which it was being transported was struck by a train at a level crossing near Oswestry. I ‘ve included this to give a little idea of what Martin could do.

He made biblical stories real, he put you almost in the center of events and there are very few artists who manage to do that , and when you consider this was two hundred years ago , you start to appreciate the amazing talent of this artist.

The problem is his work is now scattered round the world but I was lucky enough to catch it on tour in 2012 and not sure if anything has happened since then , but I did appreciate being able to see the paintings in their full glory,

There will be other artists I am sure who have done large scale paintings but John Martin is North Eastern born and bred and one of the Geordies own , although ask any Geordie who John Martin is and unless you are in the Lit and Phil you are unlikely to get a positive response..

So try and track down any of his paintings. If you are in Newcastle you can visit the Laing Museum , if elsewhere you will have to scour your local Museums. His big works will not move around that often, and his smaller works, while impressive, also tend to remain static.

I am originally from the North West but have been in the North East for thirty years ( we are talking UK here not USA) so I am fine calling Kohn Martin one of our own. I still don’t have a Geordie accent , though I feel I have no accent at all. But I hope you enjoy the music and the slide show and it makes you want to investigate further.


About the Creator

Mike Singleton - Mikeydred

Weaver of Tales, Poems, Music & Love

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  • Dharrsheena Raja Segarran2 years ago

    It's so sad that his greatest work was ruined

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