the bard by john martin

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John Martin (1789-1854) was an English romantic painter. He was contemporary of Turner but unlike the latter, he never became a member of the Royal Academy of Arts as he never quite fitted the requirements of the institution. This did not prevent him from being highly successful with the public, his paintings reaching a broad audience through his very popular mezzotints. Like Constable and Turner, he vivified landscape paintings. But when Constable’s paintings represented mainly rural English scenes, Turner and Martin blended history with landscape. History paintings were then considered as the grand style of painting even though these paintings never really caught on in the British market, mainly due to their huge dimensions. On the contrary, landscape was considered a low genre. Despite these impediments, both of them had successful careers and raised landscape to the height of historical paintings. Another characteristic both painters shared was the inclusion of the Sublime in their art, which was very popular at the time. According to E. Burke’s definition, the Sublime focuses on darkness, vastness, magnificence, loudness and suddenness. I will analyze how when commenting on the painting The Bard. Turner’s paintings had greatly impressed Martin but their approach to historical paintings was quite different. They both portrayed grandiose representations of history and told stories about the immensity of nature compared with the smallness of men. But when Turner was more interested in fate and how men were powerless in the immensity of nature, John Martin oriented his works towards the Divine and the representation of grand biblical themes inspired by the Old Testament. John Martin’s paintings were mainly based on religious and fantastic subjects. His most celebrated works were “Belshazzar’s Feast”, “The Great day of his Wrath”, the “Destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah” or the Seven Plagues of Egypt”, amongst others. The Bard does not belong to...
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