Henri Martin first discovered the beauty of Venice in 1885, after travelling Italy on a scholarship to study the Old Masters with his close friends Ernest Laurent and Edmond Aman-Jean. Galvanised by what he saw he returned to the city for a prolonged visit in 1909-10 and continued to paint its views for years to come. Lingering in his mind, in 1925 he wrote to his son Jacques, now in Venice, “What a surprise is it not to suddenly find oneself in this silence, surrounded by palaces bathed in such picturesque reflections. Get drunk...off this artistic atmosphere, and then you will meditate and create”.
Throughout history Venice has been a source of inspiration for artists, coining the name ‘La Serenissima’ (Most Serene) thanks to its’ magical atmosphere and quality of light. Martin elegantly depicts the church of Santa Maria della Salute in ‘Venis, La Salute’. His divisionist technique creates a rich shimmering mosaic of colours across the canvas, the dappled brushwork reflecting the gentle movement of the water lapping against the Baroque architecture and the glimmering reflections.
Martin’s Venetian paintings were highly acclaimed during his lifetime. Five years before painting the present work, the prominent French dealer Georges Petit held a display of his Venetian paintings in Paris. The show was lauded as a triumph, with the critic Archille Segard describing Martin’s personal response as “he sees Venice in the same way that he sees his home in Quercy. He sees the skies and southern waters, and still he makes very beautiful paintings of Venetian motifs because these motifs awaken in him the same instinctive lyricism as that of his own land”.