Private collection, United States
Martin-Ferrières was born in 1893 in Saint-Paul de Vence in South Eastern France, into a family of artists, including his father Henri Martin, the famous pointillist. Firstly, he did not devote himself entirely to painting, studying literature and science instead and then drawing outside of lessons. However, gradually he became interested in human beings and life around them beginning his formal training at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris, studying under Frederic Cormon and Ernest Laurent. He received his first major honour in 1923 in the Paris Salon after his painting Le Christ was awarded a Silver Medal and then purchased by the French state. He would exhibit at the Salon regularly for many years, receiving a travel scholarship the next year in 1924. This enabled him to discover Italy and the artistic wealth it possessed, influencing him to look away from the academic conventions and restraints of the day. During the period 1925-1928 Martin-Ferrières would continually return to Italy to study the Italian masters, and on return to France his paintings were well received.
After a successful year in 1928, where his painting Marche d’Assissi was awarded a Gold Medal at the Paris Salon and the The Legay-Lebrun prize, then being purchased by the City of Paris, Martin-Ferrières’ popularity grew and his talent was unanimously acknowledged by critics. Up until 1933 he devoted himself to painting powerful frescos of the church, Saint Christopher de Javel in Paris. In the following years he spent time in Spain, Greece and Yugoslavia where he significantly developed his palette, becoming lighter and more energised. Despite his father’s strong influence in learning the pointillist technique, he became known for his own technique using a thick impasto, applying the paint in layers which created a surface of great vitality and a wonderful basis for his experimentation with the effects of light.
During the war years, Martin-Ferrières was part of the Resistance in Dordogne, where he was briefly captured by the Germans but his life was spared, however afterwards he didn’t continue to paint until 1950. He returned to Venice the same year and also went to new locations such as, Portugal, Switzerland, Belgium, Scandinavia and Holland. This demonstrates how travel was an integral part of Martin-Ferrières’ inspiration as he extracted the artistic essence of everywhere he visited. In 1965 he exhibited in Paris in an exhibition of Venetian landscapes and snow landscapes, which he particularly enjoyed painting from 1950’s onwards.