Henri-Jean Guillaume Martin

France, 1860-1943 Biography

Henri Martin was the son of a carpenter born August 5, 1860 in Toulouse where, despite financial difficulties, he also attended L’Ecole des Beaux-Arts. There, he studied under Jules Garipuy (1817-1893). Garipuy, having been trained in Paris and successful at the Salons, encouraged his talented student to go on to Paris for further training. His early works were devoted to poetic and allegorical themes reflecting his training at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Toulouse. After winning the Grand Prix Martin went to Paris in 1879 where a scholarship enabled him to study in the atelier of Jean Paul Laurens (1838-1921). In 1883 he was awarded his first medal at the Paris Salon. With this honor came a scholarship to study in Italy, a journey that was to have a profound effect upon his artistic development. Until this period he had adopted a classical, cold and correct technique, but the Italian light and his study of masters such as Giotto and Massaccio gave him a new perspective.

He returned from Italy with an awakened sense of light and a reinvigorated approach with the brush and pallet. He became bolder with dashing brushstrokes and a heightened use of color. Influenced by the Neo-Impressionists, Martin used the divisionist technique to give his work an ethereal quality. In the 1890’s his work showed links with Symbolism. He was an associate of the Symbolists and exhibited at their acclaimed showcase -- the first Salon de la Rose Croix in 1892. Under the influence of Georges Seurat and Paul Signac, Martin adopted pointillism which is exemplary of his most successful works – those rendered in the latter part of his career after having found the technique at which he excelled. In 1889, he submitted a canvas to the Salon that was wholly pointilist, for which he received the gold medal. In 1895, he was awarded the Cross of the Legion of Honor, and that same year he held a one-man show at Galerie Mancini, which was a triumphant success. 1900 saw Martin receive a Grand Prix at the Universal Exposition. He was made a Commander of the Legion of Honor in 1914 and a member in 1918.

In 1900 Henri Martin purchased the home known as Marquayrol overlooking the Village of La Bastide du Vert not far from his native Toulouse. Henri Martin would produce many of his most memorable paintings in these environs during the remainder of his life. The ancient arched bridges, charming stone buildings and stands of poplar trees along banks of the river would become to Henri Martin what Giverny was to Claude Monet: an unending source of inspiration, wonder and beauty. Le Bassin principal du parc de Marquayrol plain ete is an exceptional example from this period. The fresh jewel like colors, Martin’s inimitable pointillist technique as well as the large scale and superb condition of this work all combine to place this painting among the most beautiful and poetic landscapes executed by the artist. The pool featured in Le Bassin was a highlight of Martin’s property and a feature of his garden that he painted several times. Here we see it in the lush grandeur of summer, with richly pigmented flowers, an explosion of greenery and bright Mediterranean sunlight.