WILLY MARTENS (1856 - 1926): Portrait of Greta Eschauzier

Signed below right; oil on canvas, marouflé, dimensions without frame 58 x 48 cm (oval). Price € 1.100.

This subtle portrait is a fine example of the extraordinary portrait painting qualities of Willy Martens. Martens gained fame particularly as the court painter of Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands. The painting is in perfect condition and is included in the original list.

Martens, born in Semarang (former Netherlands-Dutch-Indies), studied at the Rijksacademie in Amsterdam between 1876-1880. He continued his studies in Rome and Paris. In Paris he was a student of the history painter Fernand Cormon (1845-1924) and the famous portrait painter Léon Bonnat (1833-1922). Bonnat’s pupils include world-famous painters such as Gustave Caillebotte, John Singer Sargent and Edvard Munch. From 1891 Martens lived in The Hague. He was director of the still existing museum H.W. Mesdag and chairman of Pulchri Studio.

In addition to genre pieces, portrait pieces and peasant interiors, Martens has produced decorative paintings in the building of the Royal Household Archive (on the premises of the Noordeinde Palace in the Hague) and in the home of the banker Simon Van Gijn in Dordrecht. Various Dutch museums own works by this Hague master.

Martens has distinguished himself primarily as a portrait painter. One of his most famous portraits is that of the young Queen Wilhelmina with a parasol in a parkland. This painting belongs to the collection of Museum Paleis Het Loo. Queen Wilhelmina’s parents, King William III and Queen Emma, were also portrayed by Martens. Like Bonnat, Martens can be counted among the naturalistic movement in art history. This also applies to this realistic and beautifully toned portrait of Greta Eschauzier, to whom Martens was parented via his wife. The cool, somewhat distant beauty of Greta has been splendidly recorded on the canvas. The introspective look in her eyes creates a psychological depth that characterizes the true portrait painter. This makes the portrait a fascinating presence, even when the person portrayed is not known herself. The handwritten English text of a relative of Greta on the back, grants this painting a special authenticity.

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