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Read moreThe beauty and serenity of Henri Martin's idyllic post-impressionist landscapes find exquisite expression in the following six monumental canvases celebrating the wine-growing industry. This is a unique opportunity for collectors as Martin's mural paintings are very rarely seen on the market. Their splendour adorns illustrious interiors including, in Paris, the Hôtel de Ville, the Sorbonne, the Palais Royal and the Conseil d'Etat, to name but a few. The artist was much in demand for such large-scale decorative commissions which, in the case of the present paintings (lots 497-502), came from the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Béziers, in Hérault, the premier wine-growing department of the Languedoc region in the South of France. Hérault's involvement in wine production dates back to the 7th century BC, with the best known appellations including Saint-Chinian, Minervois and Faugères. The founding of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Béziers in 1902 was necessitated by the burgeoning importance of the local wine industry. Its relocation into the beautiful Renaissance-facaded Hôtel du Lac led to the commission of the present paintings for the Salle des Délibérations.
A native of Toulouse, Henri Martin's roots in the South of France gave him an innate love of sun-drenched landscapes and a profound sense of man's need to coexist harmoniously with nature. Such clear affinity with the Béziers commission made him their ideal candidate. He captures the very essence of the natural elements that combine to create and nuance the wine of this region. In four vertical canvases, he depicts the key seasonal occupations of wine growing: déchaussage des souches by labourers under the mild early spring sun in Le cultivateur (lot 517); the sulphating of the vines traditionally carried out between Easter and Pentecost in Le sulfatage (lot 516); September grape-picking in La cueillette (lot 515); and Autumn harvesting in Les vendanges (lot 514). In these and the two horizontal masterpieces, Idylle (lot 513) and Bucolique (lot 512), Martin ennobles the workers, celebrates the timelessness of their labour and lends poetry to the ancient industy of wine growing through harmonious compositions and a brilliant palette. The warmth of Mediterranean sun radiates from the canvases, which are suffused with golden light, and the vegetation and soil of the Midi are evoked in vivid green and orange tones on a lusciously textured, impastoed surface.
Henri Martin (1860-1943)
Henri Martin (1860-1943)
signed 'Henri Martin' (lower right)
oil on canvas
78 5/8 x 127 1/8 in. (199.9 x 323 cm.)
Commissioned by the Chambre de Commerce et d'Industrie, Béziers, in 1932.
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Sale Room Notice
Please note that Cyrille Martin has issued one certificate for the entire group of six works. Therefore individual certificates will not be issued with each painting.
Please note that the present work was painted circa 1932.
Cyrille Martin has confirmed the authenticity of this painting.