As the fourth son of the painter Henri Martin, Jacques Martin-Ferrières started learning from his father when he was very young. He devoted himself definitively to his great love, painting, once he had completed his studies in chemistry. These studies gave him an insight into the nature of pigments to the point where he was able to mix his own colours.
In addition to studying with and being profoundly influenced by his father, Martin-Ferrières studied with Fréderic Cormon (1854-1924) and Ernest Laurent (1859-1929). He exhibited regularly at the annual Salon des Artistes Français in Paris, where he became an hors-concours member. He won medals at the Salon in 1920 and 1923, and received a travel scholarship in 1924. In addition, Martin-Ferrières was awarded the prestigious Prix National in 1925 for Le Peintre, which was later exhibited at the Carnegie Institute in Pittsburgh. His important work, Marche d’Assisi, won him both the Gold Medal at the Paris Salon in 1928 and the Institut Français’ Prix Legay-Lebrun - it was acquired by the City of Paris. In 1937, Martin-Ferrières received a Gold Medal at the Exposition Universelle.
His earliest paintings were indoor scenes and portraits of women depicted against wide landscapes composed of expressive brush-strokes. He was inquisitive about everything: he was a musician and played both the cello and piano well; he loved going to the theatre and to concerts where he sketched face after face with a pencil that was as confident as it was witty. His first exhibitions at the Salon (1920, 1923) were a great success. In 1924 he was awarded a grant to undertake the traditional trip to Italy where he painted Venice, Florence, Rome and Assisi. This trip gave him a taste for travel and henceforth he spent his time criss-crossing Europe: Spain, Italy, Greece, Croatia, Scotland, Holland, Germany, Switzerland. He spent the summer travelling, taking up his paintbrush whenever a scene caught his eye, and the winter in his studio pouring his travel experiences into his paintings. Flowers often caught the attention of his eye for colour, whether in his own garden where they were deliberately planted to nourish future compositions, or in bunches gathered for the studio. In 1928 he undertook to decorate the church of St Christophe de Javel in Paris. The success of this series of paintings brought other commissions from St-Ouen, Romans-sur-Isère, Montauban and the church of St Louis in Marseille.
But the Great War halted his magnificent progress. As a result of injuries sustained during the war, Jacques gradually lost the sight of one eye. He would only resume painting in19 56, but this disability put an end to the large compositions in which he had expressed his vitality, talent and warmth tempered with wit that had been expressed so eloquently. He nevertheless resumed travelling, particularly in the United States where he exhibited regularly. He would continue painting and exhibiting until his death.
In 1956, the artist was made an Officer of the Légion d’Honneur. Major retrospective exhibitions of the artist’s work were held in Paris in 1939 and 1965.
Museum & Public Collections
Boca Raton Museum of Art, Boca Raton, Florida
Indianapolis Museum of Art, Indianapolis, IN
L’Église Saint-Christophe de Javel, Paris
Musée des Beaux-Arts de la Ville de Paris (Petit Palais), Paris
Musée Malraux, Le Havre