Homer Dodge Martin
Most collectors familiar with 19th-century Hudson River School artists know Homer Dodge Martin’s name, but I’ll bet very few know any facts about him. He’s an enigma. After his death, Worthington Whittredge was quoted as saying, “Homer Dodge Martin died before anybody discovered that he was a painter.” Powerful words considering that he was a full National Academician, but he suffered from ill health and melancholy, as well as continuously deteriorating eyesight. Two early trips to Europe—in 1876 and again in 1881—began to turn Martin’s work toward Barbizon influences, and he struggled to find his voice balancing these two different “schools” of art. He continued to seek an audience for his work with infrequent success. Examples like this piece, dated 1863, are still squarely in the earlier mode and are definitely my preference in his work. I obtained this piece in 1972 from Kennedy Gallery, and I definitely was not aware of how rare this quality of Martin’s work was. Given Whittredge’s observation, it’s possible in 1972 that nobody else was either.