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Title: The art of John Martin : contexts and sources of the early nineteenth century taste for the catastrophic in art and literature
Author: Burnett, Richard Anthony
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 1996
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The three main chapters focus on the following areas: (i) A systematic analysis of the early years of Martin's career, including extensive discussion of the sources and imagery of a number of his most important works completed before 1821. In the process, new reasons are suggested for Martin's choice of subjects and for the great public approbation which many attracted. Particular attention is devoted to the interpretation of Sadak and Belshazzar's Feast. The chapter presents new evidence concerning Martin's early work as a painter on china and glass. (ii) The first detailed examination of the lives and work of Martin's imitators and copyists. Among the artists discussed are William Geller, Henry Selous, James Henry Nixon, George Miller and J.G.S. Lucas. The motivations of those opting to work in the Martinesque style are considered, as is the commercial and critical context which allowed them to thrive. New attributions are made for previously unidentified works and alternative titles suggested for several pictures. The chapter includes the discussion and illustration of many paintings and engravings never before published, as well as a biographical appendix. (iii) An enquiry into the relationship between Martin's work and the poets of the Catastrophic School; including Atherstone, Milman, Montgomery and Reade. After introducing a number of examples of this literary genre with accompanying commentary, the question of the similarity in critical reactions inspired by both catastrophic art and literature is considered. Related to this theme is the controversy over 'public taste' and who should determine the merit of this new poetry. Elements of social criticism implicit in several epic poems of the period are also analysed within this section. Biographies of the leading poets of the genre are included at the end of the chapter.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available