Martin, Wilhelm

Full Name: 
Martin, Wilhelm
Other Names: 
Wilhelm Martin
Date Born: 
1876
Date Died: 
1954
Place Born: 
Quakenbrück, Germany
Place Died: 
The Hague, Netherlands
Home Country: 
Germany
Netherlands
Overview: 
Dutch seventeenth-century painting specialist; first extraordinarius professor of Art History at Leiden University; Museum Director. Martin grew up in Leiden where his father was professor at the city's university. Attending the University himself, Martin studied Dutch language and literature between 1894 and 1899. He had a special interest in Dutch seventeenth- century painting. He obtained a doctorate in 1901, writing on on the painter Gerard Dou, the Baroque Leiden artist: Het leven en de werken van Gerrit Dou beschouwd in verband met het schildersleven van zijn tijd. The same year Martin joined the Mauritshuis Museum in The Hague as Assistant Director under Abraham Bredius, replacing François Waller. In 1909 he became the Director, which position he held for 36 years. During these years, he enriched the collection of paintings, updating the interior and instituting new conservation techniques. In 1914 he published the first of his new catalogs to replace the former one composed by Bredius and Cornelius Hofstede de Groot. In 1907, Martin obtained an extraordinarius professorship in Art History at the Leiden University. In 1935 he also became the Director of the Printroom (Prentenkabinet) of the same University. Martin delicately fostered a relationship with his former director, Bredius, who, after a loan of 25 paintings to the Mauritshuis, bequeath of them to the museum through Martin's efforts. This was no small feat. In 1921 the ever-petty Bredius apparently foiled Martin's attempts to acquire a Dutch primitive, Alberter Bouts, because Bredius wanted another Rembrandt for the Museum. After World War II, Henri van de Waal succeeded Martin's two positions in Leiden. Martin published various books and articles on Dutch Painting. His most important work is De Hollandsche schilderkunst in de zeventiende eeuw, published in 1935-1936 (two volumes). His field of research was not limited to the seventeenth century. He wrote books on several Dutch painters of late nineteenth century: in 1915, Albert Neuhuys, zijn leven en zijn kunst; in 1917, in collaboration with G.H. Marius, Johannes Bosboom, 1817-1891, and in 1921, Thérèse van Duyl-Schwartze, 1851-1918. Gedenkboek. His second revision to a Mauritshuis catalog appeared in 1935. As the Director of the Museum Hendrik Willem Mesdag in The Hague, from 1934 until 1954, he was able to pursue his interest in this later period of Dutch Painting. He was an active member of different boards and commissions, including the Rijkscommissie voor de Monumentenzorg (State Commission for Monuments) and the Nederlandse Oudheidkundige Bond, as the co-editor of the Bulletin. A modest man, his knowledge and activities were of great importance for his contemporaries and for Dutch Art History. Martin was among the first art professors to be given the official responsibilities of "art history." Jan Six was the first professor extraordinarius of art history at Amsterdam University (1896-1916). Between 1907 and 1946, while Martin served as extraordinarius professor at Leiden University, Willem Vogelsang was the first ordinarius professor of art history at Utrecht University. R. E. O. Ekkart remarked in his biography of Martin that De Hollandsche schilderkunst, a broad overview of Dutch seventeenth century painting, Martin combined his personal research with the results of the investigations of Bredius, Hofstede de Groot, Wilhelm von Bode and others. As a scholar, Martin was interested in the working circumstances and social milieu of artists as much as their paintings.
Bibliography: 
Full bibliographical information appears in, R.E.O. Ekkart in Biografisch woordenboek van Nederland, mentioned above. Het leven en de werken van Gerrit Dou beschouwd in verband met het schildersleven van zijn tijd (Leiden, 1901); Jan Steen. Amsterdam [1954]; De Hollandsche schilderkunst in de zeventiende eeuw. 2 vols. Amsterdam [1935-1936]; Gerard Dou; des Meisters Gemälde. Berlin: Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt, 1913; Jan Steen : en zijn Kunst op de tentoonstelling te Londen. Amsterdam: L.J. Veen, 1909; Catalogue raisonné des tableaux et des sculptures. La Haye: Imprimé par ordre de la Direction chez Mouton & cie, 1914; and Moes, Ernst Wilhelm. Oude schilderkunst in Nederland: schilderijen van Hollandsche en Vlaamsche meesters in raadhuizen, kleine stedelijke verzamelingen, kerken, hofjes, weeshuizen, senaatskamers enz. 's Gravenhage: M. Nijhoff,1910; and Bodkin, Thomas. Rembrandt Paintings .New York: Tudor, 1947; and Marius, Gerarda Hermina. Johannes Bosboom. 's-Gravenhage: M. Nijhoff, 1917; Herleefde schoonheid: 25 jaar monumentenzorg in Nederland, 1918-10 mei-1943. Amsterdam: N. v. uitgevers-mij Kosmos, 1945; Alt-holländische bilder: sammeln, bestimmen, konservieren. 2nd ed. Berlin: R.C. Schmidt, 1921; Van Nachtwacht tot feeststoet: lotgevallen, inhoud en betekenis van Rembrandt's schuttersstuk in het Rijksmuseum te Amsterdam. Amsterdam: Kosmos, 1947.
Sources: 
Lugt, Frits, "History of Art" in Barnouw, A.J. and Landheer, B. (eds.) The Contribution of Holland to the Sciences. New York: Querido, 1943, pp. 179-211, 194; Van Gelder, J.G. "Prof. Dr. W. Martin. Ter gelegenheid van zijn zeventigste verjaardag" in Maandblad voor Beeldende Kunsten 22 (1946): 75-77; Van Gelder H.E. "Ten geleide" in Nederlandsch Kunsthistorisch Jaarboek 1 (1947): 9-11; Van Gelder, H.E. Nieuws-Bulletin van de Koninklijke Nederlandse Oudheidkundige Bond 6th series, no. 7 (1954): 75-78; Van de Waal, H. Jaarboek der Rijksuniversiteit te Leiden, 1954: 122-123; Van Gelder, H.E. "Herinneringen aan drie paladijnen" in Bulletin van de Koninklijke Nederlandse Oudheidkundige Bond 6th series no. 8 (1955): kol. 165-178; Duparc, F.J. Een eeuw strijd voor Nederlands cultureel erfgoed (The Hague), 1975: 210-213; Ekkart, R.E.O. "Martin, Wilhelm," Biografisch woordenboek van Nederland 2 (1985): 378-380; Tholen, E. "Het Museum van Fraaije Kunsten voor de Academische Jongelingschap der Leidsche Hoogeschool". Het Leidse Prentenkabinet. De geschiedenis van de verzamelingen. Edited by J.F. Heijbroek Leids Kunsthistorisch Jaarboek 9 (1994): 78-87; Ekkart, R.E.O. "Grondleggers van het kunsthistorisch apparaat" in Hecht, Peter, et al, eds. Kunstgeschiedenis in Nederland: Negen opstellen. Amsterdam: Prometheus, 1998: 21-22; Hoogenboom, Annemieke. "Kunstgeschiedenis aan de universiteit: Willem Vogelsang (1875-1954) en Wilhelm Martin (1876-1954)" in Kunstgeschiedenis in Nederland (op cit.): 25-43 (sparse information about Wilhelm Martin); Feestbundel voor Professor Doctor W. Martin. MCMVII - 23 october - MCMXXXII. Leiden: N.V. Boekhandel en Drukkerij voorheen E.J. Brill, 1932.
Contributor: 
Monique Daniels