Xavier MARTINEZ (1869-1943)

Martinez, Xavier. Self portrait of Xavier Martinez. BANC PIC 1983.203--FR. Courtesy of The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley

Martinez, Xavier. Self portrait of Xavier Martinez. BANC PIC 1983.203–FR. Courtesy of The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley

“Xavier Martinez is completely, and before all also, an artist. In his work, he disregards the demands of contemporary popular taste and seeks to produce something constructive that will ultimately prove to be a valuable contribution to American art and boar a message to posterity.” Junius Craven (The Argonaut, April 2, 1927)

Xavier Martinez, or Marty’ as he was known to all of us was a pupil of Whistler. He was a gifted Mexican with an unusual sense of color and if he could have been persuaded to go to New York, he would have been universally known. Marty was the most colorful figure of the Bohemian artists. With a shock of black hair and eyes like great beads of jet, he dressed like the painters in the Latin Quartier – in corduroys, and always wore a bright crimson flowing tie, no matter what the time of day.

“Every Sunday he kept open house in his home at the top of Berkeley Hills, where there was always a big cauldron of spaghetti or chili-con-carne on the stove and plenty of red wine to drink it down with. Hot arguments on any subject which came into our minds were the order of the day, and I have a picture in my mind of Jack London sitting at one end of the table, intense and questioning, and Martinez at the other, gesticulating with a chicken bone. His wife had the poetic beauty of Rosetti’s “Blessed Damozel”.

Read Xavier Martinez biography in California Art Project, volume 10. CARA_V10_MARTINEZ

At a glance

Birth : February 7, 1869, in Guadalajara Jalisco (Mexico)
Death : January 13, 1943 in Carmel-by-the-Sea, California (United States)
Arrival in San Francisco Bay area : 1893
Married to : Elsie Whitaker, daughter of Herman Whitaker
Skills : Tonalist painter and teacher in the  California College of Arts and Crafts in Oakland
Influence : Paul Cezanne, Diego Rivera, James McNeill Whistler


Art education, teachers : California School of Design (Mark Hopkins Institute of Art) with Arthur F. Mathews,  Ecole Nationale des Beaux-Arts (1897-1901) with Jean Leon Gerome in Paris, Académie Carrière with  Eugène Carrière, James McNeill Whistler
Relations : Gelett Burgess, Arthur B. Davis, Maynard Dixon, Joris-Karl Huysmans, William Keith, Jack London, Arthur F. Mathews, Francis McComas, Charles Rollo Peters, Théophile Alexandre Steinlen, George Sterling, Anna Strunsky, Herman Whitaker
Patrons : Miss Tobin
Institutions, clubs, venues : California Society of Artists (co-founder),  California Society of Etchers, National Geographic Society


1900 Paris International Exhibition
1904 Bohemian Club (San Francisco)
1905 Vickery’s Art Gallery (San Francisco)
1906 MacBeth Galleries (New York)
1907 Del Monte Art GAllery (Del Monte)
1909 Vickery’s Art Gallery (San Francisco)
1914 California Studios (San Francisco)
1915 Panama Pacific International Exhibition
1936 Bohemian Club (San Francisco)
1974 Retrospective exhibition in Oakland

Resources in the Bancroft Library



San Francisco Bay Area writers and artists : oral history transcript. Elsie Martinez. BANC MSS 70/20 c. Regional Oral History Office. The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley Catalog Record
The Jack London Story and the Beauty Ranch. Milo Shepard. Interviews Conducted by Caroline C. Crawford in 2000. BANC MSS 2002/72 c; Phonotape 3318 C:1-10; Phonotape 3422 C:1-2; BANC MSS 2002/72 c.  The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley  Catalog Record

Pictorial Archives

Oak tree [Piedmont, Calif.] BANC PIC 2010.039–FR.  Catalog record
[Portrait of George Sterling] BANC PIC 1961.006–AX; BANC PIC 1961.006–AX. Catalog Record


Tolerton, H. H (1915). An exhibition of original drawings by Xavier Martinez, October 6th to 23rd, 1915. San Francisco : Tolerton. Catalog record
Neubert, George W. (1974). Xavier Martinez (1869-1943) [Exhibition at] the Oakland Museum, Art Special Gallery, February 12 through April 7, 1974. Oakland : Oakland Museum. Catalog Record

Data Visualization : mapping of Xavier Martinez biography

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