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On Display

John Martin (1789-1854)

Sadak in Search of the Waters of Oblivion

Martin is best known for religious and fantastical subjects often painted on a huge scale. After an apprenticeship with a coach painter he worked in London painting on china and glass. On losing his job Martin decided it was make or break for his a career and spent a month working on Sadak. It was shown at the Royal Academy and later sold for 50 guineas.

The painting is based on a story from Tales of the Genii in which Sadak has to find the waters of oblivion in order to save his wife from an evil sultan. He has almost reached his goal but clings, exhausted to a precipice. Placing his small figure at the bottom of the canvas highlights the enormity of the landscape and of the task ahead.

Medium oil on canvas
Date 1812
Dimensions 762mm x 635mm
Acquisition Number SOTAG : 1367
Credit Line Purchased in 1949 through the Chipperfield Bequest Fund