In the previous article, I showed examples of Henri Martin‘s paintings from the 1800s.
The turn of the century was a particularly productive period for Martin. His The Shepherd and His Three Muses (1900) shows his unique combination of Symbolism, narrative painting, landscape, and Divisionism.
This modified ‘pointillism’ enabled the use of intense colour, as in his The Arbour (1900).
He uses longer brushstrokes in his Rêverie automnale (Autumn Dream) (1900) to model trees and the woman’s dress, merging them into continuous areas without any intervening ground.
Beauty (1900) shows the contrasting facture used to depict hair, flesh, fabric, and flowers.
Use of modern high-chroma pigments enabled the intense colours of In The Garden (c 1900).
He won the Grand Prize at the 1900 Exposition Universelle in Paris.
His startling Profil au voile (Veiled Profile) (1902) has very different textures in its different surfaces.
In the early twentieth century, he received several commissions to paint large works for public buildings, including the Sorbonne in Paris (1908), City Hall in Paris, a room in the Élysée Palace (1908), and the French National Council of State Chamber (1914-22) in the Palais-Royal. The last are particularly impressive, and very difficult to photograph.
He had already fallen in love with the deep countryside near the river Lot at Labastide-du-Vert, north of Toulouse in the southwest of France. Visits there resulted in landscapes such as his View of Labastide-du-Vert (1910). When the First World War broke out in 1914, he moved there from Paris, and there he remained for the next four years.
Although he continued to paint in other genres still, in the period between the wars he painted many views of this area, including The Bridge at Labastide-du-Vert (c 1920).
He also travelled to the French Mediterranean coast near the Spanish border, where he painted Boats at Collioure (c 1920).
Probably the last of his major public commissions, The Memorial (1932) is a triptych with a single continuous scene, painted for the town of Cahors in southwest France.
Study for Les Champs Elysées (1939) shows how he continued to use fine brushstrokes long after Neo-Impressionism had vanished. That same year, he finally retired to Labastide-du-Vert, where he died in 1943.
The paintings of Henri Martin are a well-kept secret. Sometimes criticised for not being particularly innovative or original, I hope these examples have shown otherwise. I cannot understand why they are not much more widely known, and why art history seems to have forgotten Martin.
The largest public collection is in the town of Cahors, with its superb mediaeval bridge, not far from Martin’s favourite Labastide-du-Vert. At the moment, the museum is closed for refurbishment. When it re-opens, I think it will be well worth a visit.
Wikipedia (in French).