The Bard

The Bard

ca. 1817
John Martin
1789–1854
Oil on canvas
50 x 40 inches (127 x 101.6 cm) Frame: 57 × 47 inches (144.8 × 119.4 cm)

Painted around 1817, at the height of the Romantic movement, John Martin’s version of The Bard unites the drama of the poem by Thomas Gray, published in 1757, with a vision of sublime landscape. The Bard stands amid an overwhelming and powerful landscape with ominous clouds, a raging river, and dramatic cliffs evoking the sublime, a combined sense of awe and terror, in the viewer. The Bard’s disproportionate size, particularly in comparison to the advancing troops of Edward I below, makes him seem an element of the landscape, a landmark in his own right.

B1981.25.439
Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection