|Artist||William Wallis after John Martin|
|Dimensions||Image 86 x 141 mm, Sheet 89 x 143 mm|
The Roman general, Gaius Marius, sits with his head in his hand amongst the ruins of Carthage. Carthage was a major threat to Roman hegemony in the Mediterranean, and following Roman victory in the Third Punic War, the city was destroyed. The Byrsa, Carthage's citadel, stands on a rocky outcrop on the right, looking out over a vast, but now empty, city. Serried ranks of soldiers disembark from the curled prows of warships in what was once the city's famous harbour, and the rubble upon which Marius sits is all that now remains of the great public buildings of the Punic capital.
The fascination with the ruin was a major aspect of the Romantic aesthetic, and the destruction of the great cities of the ancient world provided plentiful inspiration for Romantic artists and poets. Martin's love of dramatic ruins is a common theme in his work. His corpus ranges from the tumultuous destruction of biblical sites like Tyre, Babylon, and Nineveh, to a London-esque city meeting its apocalyptic judgement in The Great Day of His Wrath.
William Wallis, also known as 'Wallace', (b. 1796) was a British engraver and the brother of the cartographer and line-engraver, Robert Wallis. He is known only for a select group of engravings in various almanacs and annuals.
John Martin (1789-1854) was an English painter, illustrator and mezzotint engraver. He achieved huge popular acclaim with his historical landscape paintings which featured melodramatic scenes of apocalyptic events taken from the Bible and other mythological sources. Influenced by the work of J.M.W. Turner (1775-1851) as well as Theodore Gericault (1791–1824), Eugene Delacroix (1798–1863) and Paul Delaroche (1797–1856), his paintings are characterised by dramatic lighting and vast architectural settings. Most of his pictures were reproduced in the form of engravings, and book engravings, from which he derived his fortune. Despite his popularity, Martin's work was spurned by the critics, notably John Ruskin, and he was not elected to the Royal Academy. His fame declined rapidly after his death, although three of his best known works of religious art toured Britain and America in the 1870s: The Great Day of his Wrath (1853, Tate, London), The Last Judgment (1853, Tate) and The Plains of Heaven (1851-3, Tate). A great contributor to English landscape painting, Martin was a key influence on Thomas Cole (1801-48), one of the founding members of the Hudson River School.
Condition: Trimmed within plate, light toning to margins and inscription space.