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Paradise City

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The Representation of an Urban Heaven in the Art of John Martin

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In a century defined by the rise of cities, the early nineteenth-century painter John Martin broke artistic precedents and represented heavenly Paradise as a space premised on urban living. Though he did not entirely reject the more traditional conception of Paradise as a garden, he merged the rural vision of Paradise with urban structures and spaces. Martin’s widespread popularity, combined with the contentious discourses regarding the nature of the city, ensured that his representations engaged a set of public debates regarding the nature of urban life in profound ways. Martin’s paintings and prints suggested that God not only tolerates cities, but that God builds them and resides in them. In essence, his paintings and prints revealed an urban heaven that helped make a political and religious case for urban life in general.

Affiliations: 1: Shepherd University


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