“The Great Day of His Wrath” by John Martin, 1851–1853. Oil on canvas, 197 cm × 303 cm. Tate Britain, London.
Michael Freeman, Supernumerary Fellow and Lecturer in Human Geography at Mansfield College, describes the painting as follows:
Storms and volcanic eruptions, earthquakes and other natural disasters ‘swept like tidal waves through early nineteenth-century periodicals, broadsheets and panoramas’. Catastrophic and apocalyptic visions acquired a remarkable common currency, the Malthusian spectre a constant reminder of the need for atonement. For some onlookers, Martin’s most famous canvases of divine revelation seemed simultaneously to encode new geological and astronomical truths. This was… powerfully demonstrated in The Great Day of his Wrath (1852), in which the Edinburgh of James Hutton, with its grand citadel, hilltop terraces and spectacular volcanic landscape, explodes outwards and appears suspended upside-down, flags still flying from its buildings and before crashing head-on into the valley below.