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