L’église de Saint-Cirq-Lapopie

by Henri Martin

DIMENSIONS: (unframed) 44.09 x 33.46 in./ 112.00 x 85.00 cm
MEDIUM: Oil on canvas

Catalogue No: 5393 Categories: ,


This beautiful painting depicts the church in the village of Saint-Cirq-Lapopie from the bottom of the hill. Dedicated to Saint Cyr (the vilage is named after him) and to Saint Julitte, his mother, it is a Gothic building founded in 1522. It retains its medieval gold leaf decoration from the 12th Century and its 13th Century murals.

Henri Martin was so enamoured by the village of Saint-Cirq-Lapopie, enchanted by its charm and beauty, that he bought a house there in 1912. It is marked predominantly by late Medieval and Renaissance buildings and Martin was obsessed in capturing every last detail, from the timbering of the houses to the whiteness of the brickwork. Here, Martin has taken care to render every last detail of the elegant buildings such as the half- timbered roofs. He painted the area constantly throughout his long career, attempting through use of high or low angle viewpoints, pyramidal compositions and tight structure to capture the essence of the town.



Gerald Peters Gallery, Santa Fe.;
Wally F Galleries, New York.;
Acquired from the above by Marsha Mason circa 1980.;
Christie’s, New York, 5th May 2011, lot 327;
Private Collection, United Kingdom

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Martin studied art formally under Jules Garipuy at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Toulouse and while there he also studied with Eugene Delacroix. In 1879 Martin moved to Paris and worked in the studio of Jean-Paul Laurens. He received his first medal at the Paris Salon in 1883 at the age of 23 and went on to hold his first exhibition there three years later.


In the early years of his career Martin was awarded a scholarship which took him to Italy. This journey was to have a profound effect upon his artistic development. Before visiting Italy, Martin’s early style was largely based upon a classical, cold and correct technique which focused on the idealised historical characters and events popularised by the Paris Salon. In Italy however, Martin discovered the beauty of colour and light, both in nature and in the works of the great masters, such as Giotto and Masaccio. Inspired by what he saw he abandoned the academic style of his earlier works and adopted a style that utilised radically short brush strokes and divided the picture into a mass of small and visible strokes. In many ways this technique was reminiscent of the works of Georges Seurat.


Back in Paris, Martin received the gold medal at the Salon in 1889 and became a member of the Legion of Honour. He painted some unusually large pictures for the Neo-lmpressionists and won great acclaim when he exhibited them at a one-man show at the Mancini Gallery in 1895. Furthermore, he won the Grand Prize at the World Fair in 1900. As the prestige and popularity of Henri Martin grew, he was commissioned to paint some important murals for the city hall in Paris in 1895, and for the Capitol in Toulouse in 1903-1906. During this busy period in his career, Martin also became good friends with the sculptor Auguste Rodin.

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