Henri Martin was born in Toulouse on 5th August 1860 and entered l’École des Beaux-Arts in Toulouse in 1877. Three years later in 1880 he first exhibited, at the exceptional age of twenty, at the Salon des Arts Français, and in 1883 won a first-class medal at the Salon. In 1885, Martin followed the well-trodden path to Italy with fellow painter Amand-Edmond Jean (1860-1935), a journey undertaken by numerous French artists who were encouraged by the state to study the Italian masters.
In 1899, his work “Serenité” was praised by no less than Puvis de Chavannes, further consolidating his reputation. In 1900 Martin’s career moved into the phase for which he is now justly renowned. He purchased ‘Marquayrol’ in La Bastide-du-Vert in Lot where he lived and painted for the rest of his long life. Marquayrol, an old farmhouse with a beautiful garden and extensive views provided much of his subject matter over the years to come. 1905 saw Martin elected as an Officer de la Legion d’Honneur and in 1907 “La Crepuscule” won the medal of honour at the Salon.
Martin was favoured with a number of State commissions including murals in the Capitole in Toulouse, a triptych for the staircase in the Prefecture du Lot in Cahors and in addition a war memorial for the same town. Martin exhibited at the Galerie Mancini in 1896; and in 1910 and 1926, exhibitions of his work were held at Galerie Georges Petit and in 1935, a retrospective exhibition was held at the Musée du Petit Palais in Paris. Henri Martin was a symbolist; a painter of murals, but above all, an Impressionist and it is in this oeuvre that his reputation lies. A true painter of southern France, his paintings, particularly those of Marquayrol, reflect the clarity of light and vivid colouring of the south.
His works can be found in museums in: Bayonne; Beziers; Bordeaux; Carcassonne; Cahors; Dijon; Douai; Lille; Montpellier; Mulhouse; Nantes; Paris, Musée d’art Moderne, Palais des Beaux-Arts; Toulouse and Montreal.