We are Forerunners. Guardians of all that exists. The roots of the Galaxy have grown deep under our careful tending. Where there is life, the wisdom of our countless generations has saturated the soil. Our strength is a luminous sun, towards which all intelligence blossoms... And the impervious shelter beneath which it has prospered.
Whenever I go to London, I make a point of visiting the Tate Britain. This, even more than the British Museum, is probably my favourite place in the entire city, not least because of its collection of works by William Blake and J.M.W. Turner. And when I am at the Tate Britain, I always visit a set of three paintings by one John Martin. These paintings never fail to leave me humbled and awestruck by their sheer power, majesty, and vividness. Unsurprisingly, all three are religious in nature.
Here they are, in order of viewing:
The Great Day of His Wrath
The Last Judgement
The Plains of Heaven
These pictures are pretty good, but believe me when I say, they don't do the actual works any justice. The actual paintings themselves are truly spectacular, in ways that I can't even begin to describe.
These three magnificent works are far more than mere paintings. They are a reminder of what Man is capable of doing when his faith in the Lord is strong, when he accepts that there is more to the Universe than he can ever possibly comprehend, and when he believes that the Lord is both just and merciful.
John Martin himself was quite a character, as it happens. Many will argue that others like Da Vinci and Michaelangelo were greater artists, and they will not necessarily be wrong- but to me, these three paintings, and the man who painted them, are always enough to restore my faith in the power and the grace of the Lord. For that alone, I would argue that these are the three greatest paintings I have ever seen.