Wednesday, August 03, 2011

John Martin: Painting the Apocalypse

It wasn't just the Unitarians I met on the way to the chess on Saturday. The Millennium Gallery in the centre of Sheffield was hosting an exhibition of the Victorian artist John Martin under the title John Martin: Painting the Apocalypse.

Anyone who thinks the Victorians were dull should have a look at Martin's work. Call it gaudy; call it kitsch; but you can't call it stuffy. If he were around today he would be designing covers for heavy metal albums - or whatever it is that the young people buy nowadays.

His vast oils of Biblical scenes also bring home just home just how brutal and bloodthirsty the Old Testament is. Perhaps the artist's brother Jonathan Martin fell victim to this? He set fire to York Minster in February 1829 and spent the rest of life in an asylum.

The painting above is Martin's . You can read more about John Martin on Wikipedia - he also painted some wonderful landscapes in watercolours. You can find these in the exhibition too.

Later. Someone on Twitter made an important point. The exhibition is free in Sheffield but will cost £14 to go round when it arrives at Tate Britain.

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