Henri Martin’s French Impressionist landscape, titled ‘La vallée du vert à Labastide-du-Vert’ (c. 1920), has sold for $485,000 or £311,000, the work lead Heritage Auction’s $1.2 million (£770,000) December 10th European Art Signature Auction. Russian Romantic painter Ivan Konstantinovich Aivazovsky’s ‘French Ships Departing the Black Sea’ (1871) was a highlight selling for $125,000, or £80,000 the second-highest realised price of the sale. But French Impressionist artists attracted most of the bidding at the auction.
Born in Toulouse to a French cabinet maker and a mother of Italian descent, Henri Martin persuaded his father to permit him to become an artist. He began his career in 1877 at the Toulouse School of the Fine Arts, where the artist was under the tutelage of Jules Garipuy (Martin was also a pupil of Henry-Eugéne Delacroix for a time). In 1879, Martin relocated to Paris and with the help of a scholarship, was able to study in Jean-Paul Laurens’ studio. The artist received his first medal at the Paris Salon a mere four years later – where he would hold his first exhibition in 1886.
The year after the artist had won his first medal, Martin was awarded a scholarship for a tour of Italy, where the artist studied the work of veterans such as Giotto and Masaccio. His 1889 canvas submission to the Salon earned Martin the gold medal for work that has gone on to br described as Pointillist. That same year Martin became a member of the Legion of Honour. At the 1900 World Fair, he was awarded the Grand Prize for his painting. During this period, the artist became friends with Auguste Rodin.
“Martin was a consummate craftsman who never let a bad painting leave his studio,” Stated Heritage vice president and managing director of fine arts Ed Beardsley. “Yet even within an oeuvre of such accomplishment there are top pieces, and the museum-quality La vallée is one of these.”
Other highlights in the sale included Jean-Pierre ‘Cassigneul’s L’Anglaise’ (c. 1968), which sold for $81,250, or £ 52,170 – which was actually more than twice its pre-sale estimate, as well as Édouard Leon Cortès’s ‘Rue de Lyon, Bastille’ (c. 1925) which went under the hammer for $50,000, or £32,000.