In partnership with the Maine Memory Network Maine Memory Network

John Martin: Expert Observer

Illustrations

Thieves in Bangor, ca. 1865
Thieves in Bangor, ca. 1865

Item Contributed by
Maine Historical Society and Maine State Museum

When he visited Belfast and saw a house he admired, John Martin stopped to sketch it -- in great detail. When the Democrats erected a large tent in Bangor for a political convention, Martin took his son along and sketched the tent, pacing off its length and width and estimating the height.

While writing about his life and his community was important to Martin, so were his visual recordings and imaginings. He recorded what he saw and what he wished for, such as a series of possible gates for various types of purposes and structures, his ideal house and barn.

He drew the first balloon ascension in Bangor, the first street railroad, the first gunboat up the Penobscot, his children, himself, his house and gardens, chairs he built, fashions of various eras, numerous buildings, including churches, schools, businesses and residences, and much more.

In the Journal and the three scrapbooks are 34 full-page illustrations, many of which are watercolors; 37 half- or quarter-page illustrations, 32 figural drawings, and numerous other illustrations, some in watercolor.

Sometimes Martin pasted drawings he had made previously into his scrapbooks. Most often, though, the illustrations appear on the pages of the journal or scrapbooks.

Many of the illustrations are numbered, with detailed keys to the various elements depicted.

The illustrations add an important record of buildings, neighborhoods, individuals, and events to Martin's written commentaries -- and are important as folk art as well.

Some of the illustrations are available, organized into various topical categories, through the navigation at left. These and many smaller ones as well can be seen in the text of each of the volumes. Keys to the drawings appear there.

Use the navigation at left to find illustrations, which are organized by category.

To find the volume and page on which the drawings appear, click on the image and read the description, which will give the volume and page number.