Femme assise au bord d'un ruisseau signed 'Henri Martin' (lower right) oil on canvas 48.2 x 33.1cm (19 x 13 1/16in). Painted circa 1894
PROVENANCE Francis Vielle Griffin, Belgium (acquired directly from the artist). Madame Theyssander de Lambarede (by descent from the above). Anon. sale, Christie's, London, 27 June 1989, lot 345. Acquired at the above sale by the present owner.
The authenticity of this work has kindly been confirmed by Cyrille Martin.
In Femme assise au bord d'un ruisseau, Martin achieves a sense of enduring peace and tranquillity. The sitter's gaze is absorbed by the crystal stream trickling over her feet, and the viewer is forced to intrude into the moment of introspection. Martin painted several similar subjects such as Muse pensive au jardin (fig.1; formerly in the collection of Martin's friend Paul Riff), which is dated 1894. The close similarity in subject and handling allows the present work to be dated to around the same year.
Martin has sometimes been compared to Pierre Puvis de Chavanne who, like Martin, was a pupil of Eugène Delacroix. The influence of Puvis de Chavanne is particularly noticeable in the present work in the way Martin delicately portrays his characters in meadows and forests creating an eerie, almost fantastical atmosphere.
Francis Vielle Griffin, the first owner of this painting, was an American-born Symbolist poet and a member of the Belgian Academy. He was a friend of the novelist Victor Hugo and artists such as Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Jacques-Emile Blanche and Théo van Rysselberghe.