Artist biography

English painter. The son of a successful solicitor, he embarked on a legal career before turning to art. He studied at F. S. Cary's drawing school (1846–8) and in 1848 entered the Royal Academy Schools. In 1851 he became a pupil of William Holman Hunt, with whom he maintained a close friendship. Martineau was closely associated with the Pre-Raphaelite circle. He modelled for the gentleman in Madox Brown's Work (1852, 1856–63; Manchester, C.A.G.). He exhibited at the Pre-Raphaelite exhibition in Russell Place, London, in 1857, and he was treasurer of the short-lived Hogarth Club (1858–61).

Martineau's most celebrated work, The Last Day in the Old Home (1862; London, Tate), a critical success when exhibited at the International Exhibition in London in 1862, reflects the Pre-Raphaelite interest in moralising modern-life subjects, with its depiction of a family forced to leave its home because of the gambling debts of the father. Martineau exhibited 11 small-scale works at the Royal Academy between 1852 and 1867. These included portraits and genre scenes with one or two figures, and literary subjects. At the time of his death, Martineau was working on a large canvas with a historical theme, Christians and Christians (unfinished; Liverpool, Walker A.G.). Martineau's patrons included Edward Mudie of Mudie's circulating library; James Leathart; Kirkman Hodgson, the Governor of the Bank of England; and Holman Hunt's patron Sir Thomas Fairbairn.

P. Gurland: Robert Braithwaite Martineau's ‘The Last Day in the Old Home' (MA thesis, Courtauld Inst., U. London, 1986) [contains full bibliog.]


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