John Martin (1789-1854) was born July 19th 1789 in a one-roomed farm cottage at East Landends, Haydon Bridge, Northumberland, thirteenth and youngest child of Fenwick and Isabella. Although the family was living in poverty, John became the first Martin to attend school. The progressive Haydon Bridge Grammar school provided him with free schooling, and his parents with a cheap form of childcare. He showed an early talent for drawing, utilising the schoolroom walls, the doors of the villagers, and the sandbanks of the River Tyne.
An apprenticeship as a heraldic painter with a High Friar Street coach builder in Newcastle was his first taste of work before he headed for London, marrying there at the age of 19 before having a picture accepted at the Royal Academy and later becoming "Historical Landscape Painter to the Princess Charlotte and Prince Leopold", as well as a noted book illustrator.
Like his elder brother William, John was an 'all-rounder', devising sewage schemes for London and the Thames and proposals for railway systems, a lighthouse, floating harbour, and an 'Elastic Iron Ship'. He is most famous, however, as a New Romantic painter and mezzotint engraver, celebrated for his epic and melodramatic scenes of cataclysmic Biblical events crowded with tiny figures placed in vast architectural settings.
John Martin died on the Isle of Man on February 17th, 1854.