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  • M
  • John Martin
Macbeth About 1820


  • Scottish Art
Martin has created a highly original interpretation of the witches' meeting with Macbeth and Banquo from Shakespeare's tragedy 'Macbeth'. The supernatural figures fly out from a swirl of mist and streaks of lightning. The men's gestures convey their shock, isolated as they are from the large army winding into the far distance. This in turn melts into insignificance on Martin's cosmic stage, which serves as a reminder of the cataclysmic consequences of the encounter. A larger version of the painting was exhibited at the British Institution in 1820, but remained unsold. Later, however, Sir Walter Scott lamented that he could not afford it for Abbotsford.

Glossary Open

British Institution

The British Institution for Promoting the Fine Arts in the United Kingdom was founded in 1805. It promoted the work of British artists and ran a gallery on London's Pall Mall, where it offered works for public sale. It closed in 1867.

British Institution


  • Acc. No. NG 2115
  • Medium Oil on canvas
  • Size framed: 86.00 x 65.10 x 7.60 cm
  • Credit Purchased 1949