MARTIN, John (1789-1854, artist). - Charles MOTTRAM (engraver)
The Plains of Heaven
London & New York: published by Thomas McLean (London) and Williams, Stevens, Williams & Co. (New York), January 1st 1857. Steel-engraved print by Charles Mottram after John Martin, printed in colours and finished by hand. Image size: 37 1/2 x 24 inches. Skillful restoration. Sheet size: 40 7/8 x 28 inches.
The painter of the Apocalypse in lyrical mood.
John Martin was born, and spent his early youth in Northumberland in the north of England. His memories of the idyllic landscape of Allendale in the Northern Penines are said to have been the source for this image of Paradise painted late in a life of contrasting fortunes. Martin had enjoyed enormous popularity during the 1820s, but by the 1850s tastes had changed and his "grandiose visions seemed theatrical and outmoded to the mid-Victorians, and Martin died [in 1854] both neglected and forgotten" (Christopher Wood. Victorian Painting , p.20). In an effort to restore his fortunes, Martin had spent the last four years of his life engaged upon a triptych of very large biblical subjects painted in oils: 'The Last Judgment ', 'The Great Day of His Wrath', and 'The Plains of Heaven'. All three were subsequently bequeathed to the Tate Gallery in London, and are now rightly reckoned among his masterpieces. The present beautifully-presented work by Charles Mottram, one of the greatest engravers of his time, ably captures the sense of a limitless landscape that was such a hallmark of all Martin's work. Clusters of angels offer endless praise to the Almighty whilst the souls of the saved look on: all in a setting where unimagined glory is made manifest, where sky and water, cloud and mountain blend and merge.