Henri Martin (1860-1943)
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Henri Martin (1860-1943)

Les collines dominant le port de Collioure

Henri Martin (1860-1943)
Les collines dominant le port de Collioure
signed 'Henri Martin' (lower left)
oil on canvas
25 5/8 x 37¾ in. (65.1 x 96 cm.)
Galerie Hopkins-Thomas, Paris.
Acquired from the above; sale, Christie's, New York, 7 November 2007, lot 399 ($914,600).
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VAT rate of 5% is payable on hammer price and at 15% on the buyer's premium

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Lot Essay

Cyrille Martin has confirmed the authenticity of this painting.

Henri Martin purchased a house in Collioure in 1923. He knew the village well, as his old friend Henri Marre spent part of every year there, but it was not until he was in his sixties that he put down roots there. Located at the foot of the Pyrenees near the Spanish border, Collioure had been a significant port in Roman times and remained of strategic importance throughout the Middle Ages. At various times belonging to the kingdoms of Aragon, Majorca, France and Spain, it had become a permanent part of France in the late 17th century, but later lost its military significance and lapsed into a peaceful fishing village. By the 1880s it had been discovered by artists and was to serve as the backdrop for some of the most significant fauve paintings by Matisse, Derain and Signac in 1905. By the 1920s this sleepy village had been discovered by an ever-growing tourist industry, attracted by its historic architecture, colourful fishing fleet and temperate Mediterranean climate.

According to the guidebook author Ardouin-Dumazet, who wrote in 1904: 'In a bend of the coastline, at the outlet of a valley, scattered around the forts, gardens and coves in a picturesque manner...here is the pleasant town of Collioure. The prospect is charming.' (J.D. Herbert, Fauve Painting; The Making of Cultural Politics, New Haven, 1992, p. 92).

Just as he had done at Marquayrol, Martin meticulously oversaw every detail of the renovations on his new house to his exacting specifications. He also rented a studio overlooking the port. For Martin, Collioure offered subjects that could not be found at Marquayrol or at St. Cirq-Lapopie and views from his studio, with the walls of the old royal castle, Mediterranean fishing boats and, unusually for the artist, human bustle and activity, characterise many of his most successful compositions of this time. The present work presents a view of the bay drenched in the southern light which characterises much of Martin's work. The harmony of the composition, with the rampart walls, village homes and fishing boats, perfectly illustrates Martin's interest in recording both the interplay of light on objects and the rhythmic orchestration of line and geometric pattern.

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