John DE MARTELLY
“In the mid-thirties John S. de Martelly (1903-1979) was one of the nation’s most promising young painters and printmakers. His works were compared with those of El Greco, even Rembrandt.” - Martelly biographer Vic Zink.
Martelly began his career as a young prodigy in Philadelphia, studying first in the United States, and then in Europe, at the Academia Delle Belle Arte in Florence, Italy, and the Royal College of Design at the Victoria and Albert Museum School in London. He first met Thomas Hart Benton as a young student at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. Until the 1940s, Martelly’s work embodied the graceful pastoral swell of figure and landscape that defined the American Regionalist movement. Thomas Hart Benton’s friendship would play a significant role in his early professional and artistic career. He taught with Benton at the Kansas City Art Institute and resigned in protest after Benton was dismissed as the Painting Department Director, moving on to Michigan State University as the artist in residence, where he taught for the next twenty-six years. John De Martelly’s legacy as a lithographer is widely recognized and admired. Dubbed affectionately by his students as “a wise and powerful wizard” for his teaching prowess, he passed away in 1979.
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