Damaged By 1928 Flood, Pompeii Painting By John Martin Now Restored

Sep 19, 2011

"A painting considered beyond repair after being submerged in filthy floodwater when the Thames breached its banks in 1928 will be seen in something approaching its wild and lurid former glory on Tuesday when it goes on public display for the first time in a century," The Guardian writes.

It's The Destruction of Pompeii and Herculaneum, by artist John Martin (1789-1854), who as Britain's Tate Museum says was known for his paintings "of apocalyptic destruction and biblical disaster."

Until 2010, it was thought that Martin's painting could not be restored. A section showing Mount Vesuvius was missing. The rest had been soaked. But, says Patricia Smithen, the museum's head of conservation, "when tissue was pulled away from the painting ... the [remaining] surface was really intact and the figures in the foreground particularly were in really great condition."

So restorer Sarah Maisey set to work. The Guardian says that "if you look very closely ... you can see which is Martin's brushwork" and which is the restorer's. But, says Maisey: "I wanted the overall impact of Martin's work to have been retained."

Now, it's going to be part of an exhibition — "John Martn: Apocalypse" — at the Tate Britain in London, which has produced this promotional video that might make you think you were there when Vesuvius erupted.

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