John Howard Martin

J H Martin Death Valley_SOLD.jpg
2_J H Martin Death Valley View.JPG
J H Martin Death Valley_SOLD.jpg
2_J H Martin Death Valley View.JPG

John Howard Martin


A Death Valley View

- Oil on canvas mounted to art board
- Sight: 6” high x 13" wide
- Frame: 10” high x " 17.5” wide
- Signed left corner 

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About the work

Paintings by Nevada artist John Howard Martin (1853-1919)—better known as J. H. Martin—are uncommon. This particular work is dated August 1918, less than one year before Martin died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound in Reno. A remnant from the old dust cover bears a faint inscription in ink that begins “A Death Valley View…,” but the remainder is illegible.

About the artist… 

Martin’s story is both fascinating and tragic at once. His wanderings across the lands of Nevada prospecting and painting earned him the title of “The Prospector Painter.” In the last 10 years of his life Martin was a well-known character around Reno, described by some as old and crotchety.

Newspaper articles from the time of his death in 1919 describe how the artist eked out a precarious living painting western scenes. Martin’s paintings of Death Valley, Lake Tahoe, the Nevada desert, and his cattle and range scenes found their way to many Reno homes in the early 1900s. In his prime, he is said to have had an enviable reputation among art critics, some of whom ranked his very best scenes with those of Remington.

Tragically, Martin shot himself to death during July 1919 in his Reno studio. He was reportedly penniless and half starved. At the time of his death, a painting called the Village Blacksmiths was appraised at $700. A Death Valley scene was appraised at $400, which in today’s dollars would place the value at more than 5,000 dollars. 

Precious few of Martin’s works ever surface on the art market, and little is known about the number that survived since his death.     

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