Friday, 26 March 2010

The wrath of God

This was the highlight of my visit to Tate Britain - John Martin's 'The Great Day of His Wrath'. I love John Martin. He was one of Blake's acolytes and specialised in astonishingly OTT, often apocalyptic images, of Classical and Biblical subjects and fantasy landscapes that outdid any of his 'sublime' contemporaries.

I knew there were some Martins at the Tate but didn't know which, so was really chuffed to find my favourite of the lot hanging there, along with its two companion pieces, 'The Last Judgment' and 'The Plains of Heaven'. The nabbed-off-the-net JPG here just can't do justice to the impact of this colossal canvas, the fiery and gory reds, the details of the city as it crumbles into the abyss or the faces of the damned as they vainly flee the destruction crashing all about them. I was entranced, I have to admit and kept gong back to it, standing there with a gormless grin on my face.
Room 9 is the room and my favourite for additional reasons, including a Snowdonia landscape by local lad Richard Wilson (he lived the last years of his life at Colomendy Hall near Loggerheads in Flintshire) and Blake's 'Ghost of a Flea' (which turned out, in contrast to Martin, to be tiny - about A5). I wish more Blake had been on display, and Samuel Palmers, too (another Blake follower and favourite of mine). There were only three and again it was surprising how small they were, but exquistely coloured and detailed, like medieval stained glass. I did find Tate Britain a bit sound-bitey and could have done with fewer Turners (although it was fun to see 'Sunrise With Sea Monsters', surely the best - if unofficial - title of any landscape painting).

Another thing that put a stupid smile on my face was the bottle of superb Perry on sale in the cafe. They also had Dunkerton's organic cider, one of the finest you can get, but I went for the Perry. There's a lot of really crap pear ciders on sale right now - but this was the good stuff and an ideal intoxicant with which to view the likes of Palmer and Constable, who I am sure would have thoroughly approved. Can't remember who made it - some bloke in Gloucestershire, I think. Tipsyness and art appreciation go well together, I've decided.

1 comment:

  1. That's some painting. I don't know if I've ever encountered it "in the flesh". Sounds like the London trip was a success.