Jacques Martin-Ferrieres was born into a family where the arts were highly respected. His father was the renowned pointillist painter and impressionist Henri Martin, for whom Martin held the greatest adoration.
He received lessons from his father but feared that his own work would face criticism for being “the son of…” And so he didn’t draw attention to this fact. He need not have worried though, as his own artistic career was incredibly fruitful.
As you might imagine, Martin-Ferrieres received an excellent education.
He drew from the age of six and received a degree in science. His knowledge of science proved valuable when he applied chemistry to his painting techniques.
He was also a passionate musician and played the piano, organ and cello. He would often turn to his love of music to offer respite after working at the easel. He began his formal training at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris, studying under Frederic Cormon and Ernest Laurent, but soon branched out from the academic conventions and restraints of the day.
Reflections c.1930 by Jacques Martin-Ferrieres
He exhibited regularly in Paris at the Salon des Artistes Français and was able to submit work without vetting. He received an honourable mention in 1920, a silver medal in 1923, and a travel scholarship in 1924.
Despite his father’s influence in learning the pointillist technique, Martin-Ferrieres became known for his use of thick impasto. Over time he used noticeably freer movements to work the layers of the thick paste to experiment with the effects of light.
After years of studying the Italian masters and receiving honourable mentions and awards for his consciously toned down work, it was a 6 month trip to Spain where his palette became lightened and revitalised. He became influenced by the vibrant colours and reflections he saw on his travels.
A visit to Greece and the magnificent pink light he saw there dazzled him. During 1925-1928 he regularly visited Venice capturing the reflections of the Venetian canal, bringing to life a glistening light in his work.
Barques dans le port, 1924 by Jacques Martin-Ferrieres
This spectacular painting of the Venetian canal showcases his incredible sensitivity to colour and light. The bright reflections on the water and impasto brushwork wonderfully demonstrate how energised his paintings became. This wonderful piece is in our collection.
Ferrieres went on to win the Gold Medal at the Exposition in Paris in 1937 and exhibited over 50 canvases inspired by his travels. His painting was then interrupted by the war where he nearly lost his life. He was captured by the Germans and sentenced to be shot. While his life was spared, it wasn’t until 1950 that he began and travelling again.
He did eventually go back to his beloved Venice, and then onto Switzerland, Scandinavia, Holland, Portugal, Belgium, Germany and Russia. A trip to Yugoslavia particularly inspired his love of crowds and their fascinating spectacle. It was very much his years of travelling, and the human beings around him that influenced so much of his later work. He painted everywhere he went, producing landscape scenes with vivid colour and a mesmerising vitality.
Palazzo Barbarigo by Jacques Martin-Ferrieres
We are delighted to have several works by Martin-Ferrieres in our collection, including this wonderful landscape scene, Venice.