Many people get confused between John Martin the artist & Jonathan Martin the arsonist. It probably doesn’t help that they are brothers. Why their parents decided to call one John & the other Jonathan baffles me.
John Martin the artist is the younger of the siblings and was a famous English romantic painter in his day, which was the 1800s. His brother Jonathan was six years his elder but had what today would be termed as mental health issues brought on at a young age when he was witness to his sister’s murder. It was the nasty neighbour that attacked and killed his sister and after this incident poor Jonathan was never right again. He was sent away to get over the shock but never really got over it, as one probably wouldn’t. How does one deal with those kind of memories? It must have been a nightmare he relived in his mind often. What could that have done to his health?
His younger brother John’s career in art took off when he came to London, showing often at the Royal Academy, his religious scenes and landscapes from classic literature were incredibly popular and he went into the engraving business to make his art more affordable to the general public.
Their mother had been a deeply devout religious woman and that religious upbringing had an impact on both the brothers lives; John in depicting the visions he envisioned in artistic form as he studied the Bible, Jonathan in hearing the voice of the Almighty in his head, especially in telling him to burn down York Minster. Jonathan hid in this cathedral after a service, waited till nightfall and then set it on fire.
Poor Jonathan ended up in Bethlehem hospital, also known as Bedlam and his brother John took in his son. What a difference in lives these brothers led yet still that sibling attachment to each other, that link of family bondage and kept them close, that caring for kin still such an important attribute for the Martin family.
So, I felt I had to remind folks that the Johnathan who burnt down the cathedral was not the same John as who painted pictures of them, they are related, they are almost of the same name but they are two quite different people.
You can find out more about the Martin Brothers here in the youtube film attached.