Claude Boisgirard Auction, France, 1998
Private Collection, Washington, United States, 1998;
Private Collection, California, USA, 2004;
Private Collection, United Kingdom
Henri Jean Guillaume Martin was a French painter known for his Neo-Impressionist paintings. Like the work of Pierre Puvis de Chavannes, Martin’s paintings merge Symbolist imagery with controlled Pointillist brushstrokes and pastel colours.
Henri Martin purchased a house in Collioure in 1923, captivated in his old age by its beautiful and remote setting on the Mediterranean. Though he was familiar with the sleepy fishing village, having visited his artist friend many times, it was not until his sixties that Martin himself put roots down there. Located at the foot of the Pyréneés near the Spanish border, Collioure became a popular location for many artists to paint by the 1880s, serving as the backdrop for some of the most significant Fauve paintings by Henri Matisse, André Derain and Paul Signac in 1905. While renovating his new home Martin rented a studio overlooking the port, a scene which recurs in his most successful compositions from this time.
Born on August 5, 1860 in Toulouse, France, he went on to study at the Toulouse School of the Fine Arts under Jules Garipuy. This is where he met his future wife Marie-Charlotte Barbaroux, a young and talented pastellist in 1881. Martin then moved to Paris in 1879 to work in the studio of Jean-Paul Laurens. His academic career was built around the annual Salon des Artistes Francais in Paris where he exhibited from 1880 onwards.
Later on Martin was awarded a travel grant which took him to Italy and marked a turning point in his artistic style, moving away from early realism and historical subjects as he discovered the beauty of colour and light, both in nature and in the works of the great masters, such as Giotto and Masaccio. On return to Paris, he began to experiment with the pointillist technique but instead using spontaneous short brush marks rather than dots, to build up the colour and form. Although, Martin continued to paint religious and narrative works, compared to other Neo-Impressionists. His technique became well-known, using visible brushstrokes and a bold use of colour to demonstrate the effect of light and gradually his paintings developed a distinct texture and became unusually large. His works started to receive great acclaim after exhibiting them in a solo show at the Mancini Gallery in 1895, and he received his first gold medal at the Salon in 1889, also later becoming a member of the Legion of Honour. Furthermore, he won the Grand Prize at the World Fair in 1900.
Though, Martin was still so enamoured by the beauty of nature that in the same year he moved to La Bastide-du-Vert, after purchasing a large farmhouse in Marquayrol which had extensive views over the surrounding area and provided Martin with a large amount of subject-matter for the following years. He became the true painter of Southern France, living there for the rest of his life reflecting the clarity of light and vivid colouring of the landscapes of Marquayrol.