La Tour de Collioure, c.1920
Signed lower right 'Henri Martin'
Oil on canvas
35 3/8 x 43 1/4 in, 90 x 110 cm
Henri Martin settled in the fishing port of Collioure, nestled in the foothills of the Pyrenees near the Spanish border, in 1923. Like many other artists of the late nineteenth...
Henri Martin settled in the fishing port of Collioure, nestled in the foothills of the Pyrenees near the Spanish border, in 1923. Like many other artists of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Martin was drawn to the serenity and golden Mediterranean light of this charming village, which was celebrated as the birth place of Fauvism. In 1905 Matisse and Derain famously painted their first Fauve canvases at Collioure with a fiery palette of vivid primary tones. During the 1920s and 30s Martin produced his own series of works from Collioure that are considered the most daring and vibrant of his career, examples of which can now be found at the Musée Toulouse Lautrec, Albi and Musée de Cahors Henri-Martin, Cahors.
While Martin renovated his home in Collioure, the artist rented a temporary studio by the shore and delighted in his new subject of the lively port filled with the bustle of everyday life. ‘La Tour de Collioure’ presents an enchanting view of the bay from the studio as the midsummer sun begins to cast long purple shadows across the shore and the local fishermen return to land to tend their nets. In this scene, Martin combines the geometric structures of village homes and fishing boats with the sloping hills of the Pyrenees in the distance. This harmony between architectural and organic forms imbues the canvas with a rhythmic syntax of line and pattern that is characteristic of Martin’s unique pictorial language.
Across this sun-drenched image of Collioure, Martin employs a mosaic of loose brushstrokes in deep shades of pink, orange, purple and green. This expressive use of paint and colour recreates the effects of shimmering light across the building facades and water, and echoes Paul Signac’s iconic scenes of Collioure where he spent his summers between 1887 and 1935. Martin was greatly influenced by Signac and Georges Seurat’s Divisionist technique of separating tone into individual marks of dazzling colour. Martin combined this staccato brushstroke with the evocative atmosphere of his early Symbolist canvases to reimagine the poetic environment that surrounded him in the south of France.
Acquired directly from the artist in the 1920s
Private Collection, London
Hammer Galleries, New York
Private Collection, USA
This work is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity (duplicate) signed by Cyrille Martin and dated 6 April 1998