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Henri Martin: ‘a Sleeper’ in a Scarce and Coveted Genre

Post-Impressionist French artist Henri Martin (1860-1943) has been garnering more recognition, says Richard Lynch, director of Hammer Galleries, Manhattan.

NEW YORK—Post-Impressionist French artist Henri Martin (1860-1943) has been garnering more recognition, says Richard Lynch, director of Hammer Galleries, Manhattan. The gallery has organized an exhibition of approximately 40 of the artist’s paintings, first at the Anderson Galleries, Beverly Hills (Oct. 1-25), and then in its own space (Nov. 1-Dec. 3).

Lynch told ARTnewsletter that “until 10 or 15 years ago, there was more of a market for Martin’s work in Europe, where he is [still] better-known.” He referred to Martin as a “sleeper,” a less familiar artist now being discovered by collectors interested in Impressionism and Post-Impressionism “who have found that there are very few great paintings available” by the most renowned artists.

According to Kevin Anderson, director of the Beverly Hills gallery, prices for the paintings in the show, which are generally in the 24-by-36-inch or 30-by-40-inch range, cost anywhere from $100,000/600,000, though most of those in the show are priced from $200,000/400,000. “The most expensive Martin I ever sold,” recalls Anderson, “was north of $400,000.”

Of Martin’s entire body of work, only his paintings are available, since few drawings, sketchbooks, watercolors or prints have been found. Hammer Galleries’ Lynch says the artist’s paintings are “seldom under $100,000, unless they are unfinished, or it was something he did on an off day.” He notes that some oils can reach $800,000.

Martin devoted himself primarily to landscapes, painting at or near his home in southern France. He briefly studied under Eugéne Delacroix and won the admiration of Puvis de Chavannes. A success at the 1886 Paris Salon, he landed a scholarship that allowed him to travel to Italy, and again at the 1889 Salon, where he won a gold medal.

Paintings by Martin have appeared with regularity at auction. “There may be 30 works a year,” that appear on the auction block says Anderson.

The artist’s highest public-sale price to date is $973,638, for the 1912 oil-on-canvas Scene de couture—sous la pergola a Marquayrol, at Sotheby’s London in 1990, which sold well above the $577,256/769,674 estimate. Other top prices for Martin’s works: $644,488, for the oil La couture au jardin de Marquayrol, also at Sotheby’s London, in 1996. A year later, at Christie’s London, Les Faucheurs, 1903, fetched $497,748.

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