Homer Dodge Martin (1836 - 1897)
Sunset in the Adirondacks, c. 1865
Oil on board
5 3/8 x 9 3/8 inches
Signed at lower right: H. D. Martin
Born in Albany, New York on 28 October 1836, Martin forged a career that spanned the Hudson River School style to more of a plein-air style that approximated impressionism. Popular with the earlier critics, Martin was praised with hyperbole but was justly allocated a respectful place in the pantheon of American landscape painters. Martin was the son of Homer Martin and Sarah Dodge. Martin's future wife Elizabeth verified that he made drawings as a child and a lot of what he learned was self-taught. Erastus Dow Palmer, the sculptor, recognized Martin's talent and invited him to attend a salon of artists that included George Boughton, William Hart and James M. Hart.
By 1857, Martin began sending works to the National Academy of Design. Two years later, he was working in the Tenth Street Studio Building. He married Elizabeth Gilbert Martin on 25 June 1861. Martin began painting in a detailed Hudson River School style, then gradually suppressed detail until he became known for his power to wrest from the scene before him its very heart, to seize the essential - the elemental. But Martin, one of the Corot worshippers, underwent the Barbizon influence during a trip to Europe in 1876. In addition, Martin met Whistler in London. Consequently, in the late 1870s, Martin's works reveal the influence of both Whistler and Corot in the choice of small forest scenes, increased freedom of handling, and concentration on tone. Another voyage abroad followed: between 1881 and 1886 he remained in France, mainly in Normandy.
Towards the end of his career, in 1893, Martin and his wife moved to Minnesota, having visited there a decade before. He settled in Saint Paul, where he lived while struggling with cancer, failing eyesight, and mental depression and hoped that the clearer air of that city would improve his health. During those years in Saint Paul he was productive, creating works that tended towards abstraction and that have been called some of his finest.
He became a member of the National Academy of Design in 1874, and in 1877 was one of the founders of the Society of American Artists. Near the end of his life, nearly blind, he painted Adirondack Scenery from memory.
Homer Martin died in St. Paul, Minnesota in 1897.