L'heure du thé sur la terrasse de Marquayrol, c.1930
Signed lower left 'Henri Martin'
Oil on canvas
43 1/4 x 62 5/8 in, 110 x 159 cm (framed)
31 7/8 x 51 3/8 in, 81 x 130.5 cm (unframed)
Henri Martin acquired the idyllic seventeenth century house of ‘Marquayrol’ in 1900, nestled in the valley of Labastide-du-Vert in the south west region of France. Each summer Martin returned to...
Henri Martin acquired the idyllic seventeenth century house of ‘Marquayrol’ in 1900, nestled in the valley of Labastide-du-Vert in the south west region of France. Each summer Martin returned to paint the villa’s gardens and panoramic views over the pastoral Languedoc region, prompting a decisive change in his style. Having abandoned industrial Paris and the Symbolist movement that had dominated his early work, Martin now turned his attention to nature as his new “model of beauty” and the unique quality of light that confronted him daily.
While Martin painted the surrounding countryside, villages and river; his most intimate and tranquil paintings are of Marquayrol itself, and reveal the artist’s innate attachment to the house as well as the beautiful Italianate gardens that he cultivated with his wife. ‘L'heure du thé sur la terrasse de Marquayrol’ pictures the terrace of Martin’s villa with an elegant table and chairs prepared for afternoon tea. With a napkin left tumbling off the side of the table and teacups left unattended Martin creates the sensation that the artist and his guests have just moved away from the scene. This tender atmosphere gently suggests the idea of a human presence, akin to fellow Symbolist painter Henri le Sidaner’s notion of mesmeric ‘inner life’.
Much like Le Sidaner, Martin developed a synthesis of Impressionism and swift Pointillist brushstroke to channel this poetic environment and to convey the clarity of light in the south. Just as Claude Monet painted the changing colour and atmosphere of the waterlilies at Giverny, Martin returned frequently to the gardens of Marquayrol as a means to capture the effects of light at different seasons and times of the day. In this particular example the rolling landscape beyond the balcony is thrown into the warmth of the last rays of daylight, while the terrace itself is cast under deep purple shadows.
‘L'heure du thé sur la terrasse de Marquayrol’ was presented as a gift to one of two housemaids that worked for Henri Martin during his summers in the south. The work remained in the family of Eugénie Esbelin for over fifty years before it was sold in 1991.
Eugénie Esbelin, Labastide-du-Vert (gifted by the artist c.1935)
Private Collection, France (by descent from the above)
Sale: Sylvie Dagot, Montluçon, 1991
Richard Green Fine Paintings, London (acquired at the above sale)
Private Collection (acquired from the above in 1991)
This work is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity signed by Cyrille Martin and dated 10 October 1991 to replace the original certificate lost by the descendants of Eugénie Esbelin