....The name of this show is a great one word summation of the exhibited work - Martin's oeuvre is epic, magical, mystical, biblical, fantastical, celestial, fictional - sensational. On an apocalyptic scale and often of apocalyptic subject.
For a humble Geordie lad, with huge ambition, not just in art, but also engineering and publishing, John Martin created quite a stir. His non-traditional style of 'landscape' painting and the sensationalist subject matter was often critically slammed, but what can't be denied are the paintings' impact - both then and now.
Visitors flocked to see visionary scenes, of incredible detail and imagination, not just locally but on a Worldwide scale.
The Great Day Of His Wrath, 1851-53
Ironically, despite the fervor, Martin had more critical and financial success with his series of mezzotint prints, including depicting Milton's, 'Paradise Lost' in a popular series.
Satan Arousing The Rebel Angels, from the Paradise Lost Series, 1827
But personally it's all about the paintings - the scale, the dynamism, the story. You can see where so much modern day inspiration has been found and used in film, particularly. Each painting could be a still from a blockbuster. Of Lord of The Rings. Of many others.
Sadak In Search Of The Waters Of Oblivion, 1812
What I found is that the show entertained me. It is creatively brilliant, populist, breathtaking, yet the most traditional of forms. A painting. A meticulously created still. But the realisation is vivid and spectacular.
The Last Judgement, triptych, 1853
The Tate Britain show brings the drama to life further, in the final room, where Martin's triptych, 'The Last Judgement', is brought to life theatrically with a lighting and voice over show. These paintings carry on the theme of the end of the world, as prophesied in the biblical Book of Revelation. They marked the culmination of a career spent painting apocalyptic disaster, that astonished audiences then and continue to do so. Including me - even in this digital, 3D, technological age.
Portrait of John Martin, by Henry Warren, 1839
Over 150 years later, this is a blockbuster - the Geordie John Martin done good! An epic show, that must be seen.