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Let This Be a Lesson: Lecture 10

John Martin, Belshazzar’s Feast, 1820. Oil on canvas. Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection

Handwriting on the Wall: John Martin’s Belshazzar’s Feast

Friday, November 22, 2013, 1:30 pm

A painter of fantastical and catastrophic events, Martin was a master scenographer and a Victorian celebrity. In this Old Testament episode, set in a dizzy vision of Babylon, a blaspheming king gets some bad news.

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Lecture Video

John Walsh presents Let This Be a Lesson: Lecture 10.

Recommended Readings

John Martin has become a popular subject. The best recent books, however, by Martin Myrone, J. Dustin Wees, and Morton D. Paley, are already out of print. Martin Meisel is excellent on contemporary theater and spectacle.

To access subscription-only articles, or for assistance with any of the below materials, please visit the Nolen Center Library at the Yale University Art Gallery.

On the Artist and the Painting

Myrone, Martin. John Martin: Apocalypse. Exh. cat. London: Tate Britain, 2011–12: 11–21, 99–108, 225.

Wees, J. Dustin. Darkness Visible: The Prints of John Martin. Exh. cat. Williamstown, Mass.: Clark Art Institute, 1986: 2–4, 29–38.

On the Period

Meisel, Martin. Realizations: Narrative, Pictorial, and Theatrical Arts in Nineteenth-Century England. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1983: 17–28, 166–88.

Paley, Morton D. The Apocalyptic Sublime. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1986: 122–54, 189–90.

On the Subject

Daniel 5. NIV Bible.
Access Online

Note: For the benefit of the lecture audience, we are supplying a recommended reading list as well as links to useful online sources. Any author or publisher who believes that his or her rights have been violated should contact Rights and Reproductions at the Yale University Art Gallery at

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