Figures Seated by a Lake in a Wooded Landscape

Figures Seated by a Lake in a Wooded Landscape

1820

John Martin

(British, 1789-1854)

Brown wash and point of brush with graphite underdrawing

Watermarks: J. WHATMAN

Support: Cream wove paper

Sheet: 19.8 x 26.6 cm (7 13/16 x 10 1/2 in.)

John L. Severance Fund 1997.38

Location

Fun Fact

John Martin's biographer believed that his early landscapes, such as this one, were inspired by classical texts by Ovid.

Description

Before he became famous as a history painter, John Martin earned a living by teaching and painting watercolors. His so-called sepia drawings, landscapes in monochromatic wash, found an enthusiastic audience. The artist’s method for painting foliage in these drawings was idiosyncratic; form and texture were created almost entirely in negative spaces without the use of line. Highlighted leaves, bark, vines, and roots were delineated with the white of the paper, creating a peculiar, instantly recognizable, spongy effect.

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