The Art of the Sublime

John Martin The Great Day of His Wrath 1851–3

John Martin 'The Great Day of His Wrath' 1851-3
Full screen
John Martin 1789–1854
The Great Day of His Wrath 1851–3
Oil paint on canvas
support: 1965 x 3032 mm; frame: 2400 x 3470 x 175 mm
Purchased 1945
Tate N05613
This painting forms part of a triptych of ‘judgement pictures’ inspired by the description of the Last Judgement in the final book of the New Testament, the Book of Revelation. In The Great Day of His Wrath, Martin’s apocalyptic vision closely follows the Biblical account: ‘there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood ... And the heaven departed as a scroll ... and every mountain and island were moved out of their places.’ The earth crashes in on itself, underlining the futility of mankind’s attempts to resist the will of God.

How to cite

John Martin, The Great Day of His Wrath 1851-3, in Nigel Llewellyn and Christine Riding (eds.), The Art of the Sublime, January 2013,, accessed 30 July 2015.