Oil on canvas
36 x 20 inches
Signed: Henri Martin
Private collection, South America
Henri Martin was born August 5, 1860 in Toulouse. His early works were devoted to poetic and allegorical themes reflecting his training at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Toulouse where he studied with Jules Garipuy. After winning the Grand Prix, he moved to Paris in 1879 to study at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts under Jean-Paul Laurens. He exhibited at the Salon des Artistes Francais in Paris from 1880, winning a medal at the 1883 Salon.
Although academically trained, Martin was quite attracted to the innovations of the Impressionists and later the Neo-Impressionists, similarly sharing a preoccupation with the suggestive rendering of the effects of light and atmosphere. A visit to Italy in 1885 brought a new lyrical freedom to his work and on his return to Paris in 1889 he began experimenting with pointillism and turned almost exclusively to landscape. By the 1890s his works 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 1892In 1889 Martin exhibited at La Fete de la Federation where he was presented with a gold medal. He was named Chevalier of the Legion of Honour in 1896, and in 1900 won the grand prize at the Exposition Universelle.
Also in 1900 Henri Martin purchased a large 17th century house in the village of La Bastide-du-Vert in the southwest of France, le vert, being the little river. Called Marquayrol this house was Martin’s favorite retreat from Paris. From his perch on the side of a hill Martin painted some of his finest views of his beloved valley, as the seasons passed. In this relaxed and pastoral atmosphere he faithfully recorded the ever shifting light and subtly changing tonal qualities of the landscape. On occasion he would bring his easel into the village to paint more intimate scenes of the small cottages and stone bridges that cross the little river running through La Bastide-du-Vert. When he was not busy in his Paris studio or at his country retreat, he often created large-scale murals on commission from municipalities and private individuals. Two of his most important murals are in the Hotel de Ville in Paris and the capitol of Toulouse. It was here in his beloved retreat that Martin died on November 11, 1943.
Our painting presents a view of the Vallee du Vert, above the hill from Martin’s atelier, with the majestic and stately cyprus trees, motifs frequenting the artist’s canvases. Martin’s magnificent brushwork captures the almost shimmering quality of the valley and highlights his sensitivity for the effects of light and color. His use of thick impasto render the trees and especially the foreground particularly rich. The surface textures Martin skillfully integrates, capturing the effects of light and color in nature as he saw them; resulting in a image of the serene beauty of nature.