John Martin, Manfred On The Jungfrau

Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery

Date: 1837
Technique: Watercolour, gouache and applied gum arabic, 384 x 575 mm

Romantic artists and writers were fascinated by the relationship of man to nature and this was frequently expressed through the image of figures on clifftops. Manfred is about to throw himself from the cliff but is restrained by a chamois hunter who leads him to safety. The episode is taken from Act I scene II of Byron's dramatic poem Manfred:

'...And you, ye crags upon whose extreme edge
I stand, and on the torrent's brink beneath
Behold the tall pines dwindled as to shrubs
In dizziness of distance, when a leap,
A stir, a motion, even a breath, would bring
My breast upon its rocky bosom's bed
To rest for ever - wherefore do I pause?
...Thou winged and cloud-cleaving minister,
Whose happy flight is highest into heaven,
Well may'st thou swoop so near me...
...How beautiful is all this visible world!
How glorious in its action and itself!'

Presented by A E Anderson, 1922.

Source 1
Source 2

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