Henri Martin

Quatorze Juillet à Collioure

Oil on canvas: 30.7(h) x 39.4(w) in /

78.1(h) x 100(w) cm

Signed lower left: Henri Martin

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BP 107

 

HENRI MARTIN

Toulouse 1860 – 1943 Labastide-du-Vert

 

Quatorze Juillet à Collioure

 

Signed lower left: Henri Martin

Oil on canvas: 30 ¾ x 39 ⅜ in / 78.1 x 100 cm

Frame size: 40 ½ x 49 in / 102.9 x 124.5 cm

 

Painted in the 1920s

 

Provenance:

Bought from the artist by Fernand Bouyonnet, Font-Romeu, Pyrénées-Orientale, France;

by descent in a French private collection

 

Cyrille Martin has confirmed the authenticity of this painting, which will be included in the catalogue raisonné of the work of Henri Martin, inv. no.PR Cq+01

 

 

From 1900 Henri Martin lived at Marquayrol near Labastide-du-Vert in the Lot Valley, finding inspiration in its gentle green spring landscape and bright summers. In 1923 he bought another house at Collioure, a Catalan town south of Perpignan, fifteen miles from the French-Spanish border. He already knew the area well from visiting his friend Henri Marre, who spent part of every year there. The hot Mediterranean light, crisp shadows and monumental, golden architecture presented Martin with a challenge. Throughout the 1920s and 30s he produced a series of views of Collioure which are among the most bold and dazzling of his career.

 

This joyous painting of circa 1920 shows the sweep of Collioure harbour, with boats decorated for the Fourteenth of July celebrations. In the background the Royal Castle is carved by the midsummer sun into blocks of gold shadowed in purple-pink. The sun is high, so that the vivid, royal blue paint of the boats in the foreground, the clustered yellow masts and the hues of the Tricolore flags seem to pulsate across the surface of the painting. Martin uses quieter tones for the reflections in the harbour and gentle greens and purples for the wooded maquis of the hills beyond. He employs his own modified ‘pointillist’ technique, applying paint in small, rounded touches, juxtaposing gradations of local colour. The brushstrokes depicting the sea are looser, conveying its shifting, shimmering surface.

 

Martin rented a studio by the shore and made a number of views of the town beach. Barques à Collioure in the Musée de Cahors Henri-Martin[1] depicts the castle from further away, with a sweep of bay to the left; the sun is less dazzling, the shadows bolder. Bateaux de pêche, Collioure, 1926 (private collection, Japan)[2] shows more of the beach, with fishermen tending the nets and bustling activity on the shore. In most of the Collioure paintings, including the present view, human presence is minimal and subsumed into the overall atmosphere.

 

Collioure, with its striking architecture and glorious setting, had been attracting artists since the 1880s. Paul Signac stayed there in 1887, while Derain and Matisse painted groundbreaking Fauve works in 1905. For centuries Collioure was of strategic importance, squabbled over by the kingdoms of Aragon, Majorca, Spain and France, to which it was finally ceded in 1659. The Royal Castle, built in the thirteenth and fourteenth century by the Kings of Majorca, was reinforced to its present outline by Philip II of Spain in the sixteenth century. By the nineteenth century Collioure was a modest fishing port and a centre for anchovy salting and canning; its unspoiled beauty attracted increasing numbers of visitors as the twentieth century progressed.


HENRI MARTIN

Toulouse 1860 – 1943 Labastide-du-Vert

 

Henri Martin moved to Paris in 1879 from his home town of Toulouse. A scholarship enabled him to study in the studio of Jean-Paul Laurens and in 1883, at the age of twenty-three, he gained his first medal at the Paris Salon.

 

In 1885 Martin was awarded a scholarship by the Salon to study in Italy, a journey that was to have a profound effect upon his artistic development. Until this period he had favoured literary, historical and Biblical subjects painted in a precise, academic technique, but the Italian light and his study of masters such as Giotto and Masaccio gave him a new perspective.

 

Martin returned to Paris in 1889. Influenced by the Neo-Impressionists, Martin used the Divisionist technique to give his work an ethereal quality; he abandoned the academic style of his earlier works and in 1889 submitted a canvas to the Salon that was wholly Pointillist. During the next decade, impressed by the work of the Symbolists, Martin peopled his landscape with shimmering allegorical figures and floating muses. Puvis de Chavannes said of him: ‘Celui-ça sera mon héritier, il continuera’. However, from 1900 Martin appears to have detached himself from the Symbolists and allowed his admiration for the Impressionists to influence his work to a greater extent.

 

Martin was a talented painter of large-scale decorative commissions, including the murals for the Hôtel de Ville in Paris (1895-6), which combine figures of Apollo and the Muses with official portraits in dreamlike landscapes that blend Pointillist brushwork and academic drawing. Later murals, such as Mowers for the Toulouse Capitole, employ allegory only within the context of the celebration of nature and the rhythm of agricultural life.

 

A shy, quiet character, Henri Martin remained independent, refusing to be contracted to one particular Parisian dealer, despite the success garnered by many of his contemporaries by such arrangements. In 1900 he bought Marquayrol, an old farmhouse near Labastide-du-Vert in the Lot Valley. The house, his family and the beautiful landscape provided him with inspiration for the rest of his life. Martin sought to convey the colours and textures of the changing seasons and the ancient rhythm of the agricultural world. These canvases are considered to be amongst his most successful works. Henri Martin died at Marquayrol in 1943.

 

The work of Henri Martini is represented in the Musée d’Orsay, the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, the Hôtel de Ville and the Conseil d’Etat, Paris; the Musée des Beaux-Arts, Bordeaux; the Capitole and the Musée Augustins, Toulouse, and the Museum of Fine Arts, Montreal.

 

[1] Inv. no.Ni. 91; see Cahors, Musée de Cahors Henri-Martin, Henri Martin (1860-1943) Du Rêve au Quotidien, 2008, p.169, no.143, illus. in colour p.61.

[2] Beverly Hills, Anderson Galleries, The Paintings of Henri Martin 1860-1943, 2005, pp.80-81, no.20, illus. in colour.

ImpressionistHenri Martin