MARTIN, John (1789-1854)

Scope and Content

Papers of and relating to John Martin, 1822-1976, comprising his letters, 1822-1853, relating to exhibitions of his work at the Egyptian Hall in Piccadilly, London, 1822, Society of British Artists, 1833, prices of his pictures, improvement schemes for London, to various correspondents including William Bullock, Sir Henry George Grey, John Thomas Smith, Sir Charles Wheatstone, John Prescott Knight, Edward William Cooke, William Jerdon; prints of paintings and mezzotints by Martin, [1829-1844], portraits of John Martin, [1822, 1832]; review of an exhibition of his work from the Times , 1970; exhibition catalogue, 1976.

Administrative / Biographical History

Born, Haydon Bridge, Northumberland, 1789; apprenticed to a Newcastle coach-painter, 1804; ran away after a dispute over wages; apprenticed to a Newcastle china-painter, Boniface Musso; moved to London and supported himself painting on china and glass whilst studying perspective and architecture; sent the Royal Academy his first pictures, 1812; became an opponent of the Royal Academy after becoming aggrieved over the hanging of his pictures in 1814 and 1816, but continued to contribute to their exhibitions; appointed historical painter to Princess Charlotte and Prince Leopold, 1817; exhibited at the British Institution, 1819-1821, including 'Belshazzar's Feast'; joined the Royal Society of British Artists on its foundation and exhibited there, 1824-1831,1837-1838; exhibited 'The Fall of Nineveh' at Brussels, 1833, bought by the Belgian government; elected a member of the Belgian Academy and awarded the order of Leopold by the King of Belgium; quarrelled with the British Institution, 1836; exhibited many works at the Royal Academy, 1837-1852, including many landscapes in water-colours; drew illustrations (with Westall) to Milton's Paradise Lost ; worked on plans for improving London, including water supply and recycling of sewerage, 1827-1853; died, 1854.


The correspondence is arranged chronologically.

Access Information

The Archives are available for access in the Archives Reading Room located on the 2nd Floor of the Mile End Library. The Archives Reading Room is open Mondays to Fridays 9am-4pm by appointment only. Contact the Archives for more information: Archives, Main Library QMUL, 328 Mile End Rd, London E1 4NS, telephone: 020 7882 3873, email: . For more information about the Archives see the website:

Acquisition Information

Acquired by Westfield College.

Other Finding Aids

Archivist's Note

Sources: Dictionary of National Biography CD-ROM (Oxford University Press, 1995); Historical Manuscripts Commission On-line National Register of Archives; British Library Public Catalogue On-line. Compiled by Julie Tancell as part of the RSLP AIM25 project.

Conditions Governing Use

Photocopying at the discretion of the Archivist.


John Martin Thomas Balston (Gerald Duckworth and Co Ltd, 1947); The Art of John Martin William Feaver (Clarendon Press, 1975); John Martin, Painter Mary L Pendered (Hunt and Blackett, 1923).