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In 1821, John exhibited one of his most popular and successful oil paintings, ‘Belshazzar’s Feast’. Amidst great public excitement, he went from being a painter of promise to being famous, literally overnight. The ‘European Magazine’ called the painting “a poetical and sublime conception in the grandest style of the art”. Meanwhile, ‘The Magazine of Fine Arts’ described it as a “most dazzling and extraordinary work… and one of the most original productions of British Art. The principle of this painter’s work differs from those of all preceding artists.” Despite such general public and critical acclaim at the time, however, his work did not always meet with universal approval. The writer and essayist Charles Lamb, for example, described ‘Belshazzar’s Feast’ as “vulgar and bombastic”.