February 7, 1869|
Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico
|Died||January 13, 1943
|Training||California School of Design, Mark Hopkins Institute of Art|
Xavier Timoteo Martínez (February 7, 1869 – January 13, 1943) was a California artist active in the late 19th and early 20th century. He was born in the Mexican city of Guadalajara, Jalisco, and, after becoming a naturalized citizen of the United States, died in Carmel-by-the-Sea, California. Martinez was a founder of the California Society of Artists and associated with well-known artists of the era, including Francis McComas, Childe Hassam and Arthur Mathews.
Childhood in Guadalajara
Martinez began drawing his classmates and teachers at a young age while attending public school. After school he worked in his father's bookstore bookbinding and helping with printing chores. He learned French and wrote poetry, admiring the poems of Goethe, Schiller and various French poets. In his later autobiographical writings he recalled how at age ten his mother would teach him about the movements of celestial bodies. Martinez reflected that at this age he had his first awareness that there was a rhythm in the order of things. At age 13 he began attending the Liceo de Varones (Grammar School for Men), where he studied pre-Columbian archaeology and his Tarascan heritage. He excelled in Indian designs and arts, and painted an oil copy of Entombment by Titian.
San Francisco, 1893 to 1897
Upon arrival in San Francisco, Martinez enrolled in the California School of Design, also known as the Mark Hopkins Institute of Art. He graduated with high honors and received the Avery Golden Medal for excellence in all art media. He was immediately offered a position as assistant to the head of the Institute, Arthur Frank Mathews and became a member of the exclusive Bohemian Club.
Paris, 1897 to 1901
Martinez entered the Paris École des Beaux Arts, Atelier Gerome. In 1898 he sent a number of paintings of Paris scenes back to the Bohemian Club for an exhibition in San Francisco, California. Among these were Ils de Corbeau, Market in Arcucil Cachan and Garden of Luxembourg, near Pont Neuf. In 1900 he entered the Academy of Eugène Carrière and won honorable mention at the Paris International Exposition for his painting of Marion Holden.
Return to San Francisco, Mexico trips and marriage
In 1901, he shared a studio in San Francisco with Gottardo Piazzoni and that year became a naturalized citizen of the United States. He advertised as a portrait painter, but also continued to paint tonalist landscapes as well. In the subsequent year he helped found California Society of Artists with Piazzoni, Blendon Campbell and Charles Peter Neilson. Also in 1902 he exhibited twice at the Mark Hopkins Institute of Art. Among his paintings shown that year were: By the Lake, Le Reve, New Year in Chinatown and By the Sea. In 1904 he travelled to Tepic, Mexico; upon his return he held an exhibition at the Bohemian Club that included the paintings The Outcast and Paris La Nuit. Then in 1905 he returned to Guadalajara with his friend, artist Maynard Dixon.
Upon his return to San Francisco he held a number of exhibitions, and also gave one show in New York, emphasizing the recent Mexican genre paintings. That year he produced one of his most important works: The Prayer of the Earth. After the Earthquake of 1906 he moved across the bay to Piedmont and met Elsie Whitaker, daughter of the writer Herman Whitaker. On October 17, 1907 he married Elsie Whitaker in Oakland, California and commenced building a studio in Piedmont, California. In 1907 he painted The Road, which is held by the California Palace of the Legion of Honor.
Lifetime career as teacher
In 1908, he began teaching at the California Academy of Arts and Crafts in Oakland, which later became known as the California College of Arts and Crafts, and finally just the California College of Arts. From 1909 to 1912 he held numerous exhibitions and taught various classes for the Academy at Berkeley and Monterey. In the year 1912 he helped found the California Society of Etchers; then, the following year Martinez was elected to the National Geographic Society and given a key to the Capitol Club in Monterey. Also in 1913 he made a painting trip to the Arizona desert with Francis McComas. On August 26, 1913 his daughter Micaela was born.
In 1914, Impressionists Childe Hassam and Edward Simmons came to Piedmont to view Martinez' desert paintings. The following year he exhibited at the Panama Pacific International Exhibition (where he won honorable mention) and at the Golden Gate Park Museum in San Francisco. Throughout this period he had shows in New York, Philadelphia and San Francisco. Noted paintings of this period are Head of a Girl, The Storm, Piedmont Hills and Lake Merritt. Between 1916 to 1920 he had numerous exhibitions including at the Palace of Fine Arts, The San Francisco Art Association and the Hotel Oakland. One of his paintings from this era is The Bathers, presently hung at the Crocker Art Museum. He also taught a course in costume and drapery design in addition to his painting classes.
Martinez became a member of the American Federation of Arts in 1921. In subsequent years he continued to exhibit, but was increasingly called upon to be a juror of other artists' works. In 1935 he showed The Green Moon at the San Francisco Art Museum. In 1939 he exhibited Portrait of Elsie at the Golden Gate International Exposition, Treasure Island. Martinez was selected in 1940 to represent California in the Hall of Fame at the World's Fair of 1940 in New York as one of three (along with Father Junipero Serra and William Keith).
Xavier Martinez' paintings are held in the following museums:
- California Palace of the Legion of Honor, a San Francisco Fine Arts Museum
- Crocker Art Museum, Sacramento, California
- Oakland Museum of California
- Xavier Timoteo Orozco Martinez - painter
- A History of Mexican Americans in California: Historic Sites
- Maynard Dixon (1875-1946)
- Twilight and Reverie: California Tonalist Painting 1890-1930
- Xavier Martinez, Aztecas—Naluatlecas or Mexicas, California Arts and Architecture, (1935)
- George W. Neubert, Xavier Martinez (1869–1943), Oakland Art Museum (1974)
- Barbara Novak, American Painting of the Nineteenth Century, Praeger Publishers, New York (1969)
- Kevin Starr, Americans and the California Dream (1850–1915), Oxford Press, New York (1973)
- Online Archive of California: "Self-portrait of Xavier Martinez"; oil sketch on academy board, presented to Haig Patigian in 1912.