Biography and History

Homer Dodge Martin was an American landscape painter. His earlier works are in the style of the Hudson River School, while his later work shows the influence of the Barbizon School. He was elected as an associate of the National Academy of Design in New York in 1868. In 1861 Martin had married Elizabeth Gilbert Davis, a woman of cultivation and ability, who was able to help the family's meager budget with her writing. During a trip to Europe in 1876, he made friends with, and was influenced by, the painter James McNeill Whistler. Homer's paintings were not selling well, and in order to obtain an income, he did illustrations for Scribner's Monthly and for the Century Company. Between 1882 and 1886 the Martins lived in Villerville in France. However, Homer was still not successful in selling his paintings and his wife was not getting paid for her literary work. The Martins eventually ran out of money and had to borrow from their friend William Crary Brownell. In 1887 the Martins returned to New York, where Homer's health and eye sight steadily deteriorated, and in 1896 he was diagnosed with cancer of the throat. His last years were spent in St. Paul, Minn., where, nearly blind, he painted "Adirondack Scenery" from memory. It was only after his death that he became famous and his paintings were being forged.

William Crary Brownell, a literary and art critic, was born in Westport, Mass. After graduating from Amherst College in 1871 he became a reporter with the New York World, and then an editor. He had many literary and artistic friends, among whom was Homer Dodge Martin. From 1879 to 1881 he was on the staff of the Nation. He was married in 1878 to Virginia Shields Swinburne, who died in 1911, and in 1921 he married Gertrude Hall, a poet and translator. In 1888 he became editor and literary adviser with Charles Scribner's Sons, a position which he retained until his death, forty years later.

Source: From the finding aid for C1127