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Belshazzar's Feast, from Illustrations of the Bible

A work made of mezzotint with etching in black on ivory wove paper.
CC0 Public Domain Designation

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  • A work made of mezzotint with etching in black on ivory wove paper.




John Martin
English, 1789-1854

About this artwork

The visionary Romantic painter John Martin’s Illustrations of the Bible (1831–35) boasts some of the most dramatic mezzotints of the 19th century. This series enthusiastically embraced J. M. W. Turner’s “historical” category from the Liber Studiorum (1807–1819). Yet “Mad” Martin eschewed Turner’s sepia tonality for a deep, velvet black periodically ripped asunder by lightning bolts. He engraved over 100 mezzotints, with special attention paid to the light and dark contrasts of Old Testament miracles and disasters. Although the series remained unfinished, his taste for elaborate destruction was sometimes well remunerated: when his gigantic oil painting Belshazzar’s Feast (1821; private collection) was put on view soon after being made, it attracted 50,000 paying viewers.


Currently Off View


Prints and Drawings


John Martin


Belshazzar's Feast, from Illustrations of the Bible


England (Artist's nationality:)

Date  Dates are not always precisely known, but the Art Institute strives to present this information as consistently and legibly as possible. Dates may be represented as a range that spans decades, centuries, dynasties, or periods and may include qualifiers such as c. (circa) or BCE.



Mezzotint with etching in black on ivory wove paper


Image: 19 × 29 cm (7 1/2 × 11 7/16 in.); Plate: 26.8 × 35.7 cm (10 9/16 × 14 1/16 in.); Sheet: 32.9 × 41.6 cm (13 × 16 7/16 in.)

Credit Line

Mary S. Adams Endowment

Reference Number


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