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    Description

    HENRI JEAN GUILLAUME MARTIN (French, 1860-1943)
    La vallée du vert à Labastide-du-Vert, circa 1920
    Oil on canvas
    44 x 46-1/4 inches (111.8 x 117.5 cm)
    Signed lower right: Henri Martin

    PROVENANCE:
    Ansas de Pradines, Toulouse;
    William Findlay Gallery, Chicago, Illinois;
    New York University Law School, New York;
    Sotheby's, New York, February 11, 1987, lot 64;
    Hammerbeck Works of Art, London, acquired from the above;
    Richard Green, London;
    Private collection, acquired circa 1993;
    Christie's, New York, May 5, 2005, lot 243;
    Arthur Pergament, New York, acquired from the above;
    Sotheby's, London, June 25, 2009, lot 210.

    The authenticity of this work has been confirmed by Monsieur Cyrille Martin.

    Henri Martin was one of the most distinctive and poetic painters belonging to the second generation of French Impressionists. He carried with him into the middle decades of the 20th century the shimmering vitality of impressionistic brushwork and the highly-keyed palette which his forebears Monet, Pissarro, and Renoir had used to such electric advantage a generation earlier. As with the early Impressionists, Henri Martin's goal seemed to be to capture the atmospheric and emotional qualities of the rolling French countryside at different times of day and at various seasons of the year. The present work, painted circa 1920 at his summer home, Marquayrol, in southwestern France, is a fine example of Martin's ability to create an exquisite tapestry from the natural and architectural forms he observed in the distant valley below his perch at Marquayrol. In the nearly-square format Martin came to prefer for his most ambitious landscapes, Martin designed this composition to center upon the village of Labastide-du-Vert nestled in the heart of the valley. On the left the river Vert carves a serpentine path through the tall poplars, behind which peeks the bell tower of the village church. Various village homes dot the landscape nearby, their chimneys sending white smoky arabesques into the damp morning air. The artist's pointillist technique imparts both an intense stillness and sense of tranquil order to this blue, green and violet panorama.
    The artist's extraordinary skill as a colorist sometimes downplays his considerable gifts as a draftsman who had honed his skills under Jean-Paul Laurens at the Academie Julian in Paris. In the present work, the complexities of rendering such a variety of forms in deep space and achieving convincing perspectival coherence are deceptively simple owing to Martin's reductive approach. However, if his drawing was even slightly off, the entire composition would completely fall apart. The simplicity of his forms, and the rigor with which they are drawn, enabled him to give them an almost magical grandeur of colorful, illuminated surface detail with his tiny network of brushwork. It is no wonder that even during his lifetime, Henri Martin was highly regarded as a major talent. Indeed, he was frequently acclaimed as one of France's greatest living painters.
    In 1900, when he was 40 years old, Henri Martin finally realized his dream of finding an ideal house in the south of France where he could sit and paint its gardens and vistas. That year he purchased a large 17th-century villa with farmyard near the village of Labastide-du-Vert in the Lot Valley in southwest France, Marquayrol, which became his summer retreat. Between the months of May and November, Martin left Paris and reveled in the beauty and serenity of nature he found at Marquayrol, which recalled the warm climate of his native Toulouse. His house was set on the side of a hill, with a large terrace overlooking the village and the surrounding valley. The landscape around the property including all the elements of house and garden--the little round pool (petit basin recorded in many works), the terrace, the pergola, the vineyard, the gate and even his pots of geraniums and the stone table under the arbor became recurring themes in his work. Marquayrol and the elaborate gardens he planted and maintained there remained Martin's muse for more than forty years, providing him with both his subject matter and his inspiration. Martin painted the environs of Labastide-du-Vert in many different moods, just as Monet returned again and again to his waterlilies at Giverny.


    Condition Report*: Unlined herringbone weave canvas; under UV exam, there appear to be scattered tiny flecks of inpainting in far left sky, multiple minor dots along top and upper right extreme edges, and several small spots of retouching in sky in upper right quadrant. Framed Dimensions 52 X 54.5 Inches
    *Heritage Auctions strives to provide as much information as possible but encourages in-person inspection by bidders. Statements regarding the condition of objects are only for general guidance and should not be relied upon as complete statements of fact, and do not constitute a representation, warranty or assumption of liability by Heritage. Some condition issues may not be noted in the condition report but are apparent in the provided photos which are considered part of the condition report. Please note that we do not de-frame lots estimated at $1,000 or less and may not be able to provide additional details for lots valued under $500. All lots are sold "AS IS" under the Terms & Conditions of Auction.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    December, 2014
    10th Wednesday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 2
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
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