Antonio Pietro Martino

American, 1902 - 1993
Antonio Pietro Martino was born in Philadelphia on April 13, 1902. His father Carmine, a stonecutter and mason, and mother Clementina (Baranello) Martino had both emigrated from Italy. There were seven brothers in the Martino family, each of whom painted) Antonio's younger brother, Giovanni, was also a well-known artist.

As a child Martino expressed an interest in art, particularly sculpture. When he was thirteen he began taking free art classes at the Graphic Sketch Club in his neighborhood in South Philadelphia. There his lifelong interest in drawing and two-dimensional art took root. By 1917 he was studying on weekends at the Spring Garden Institute and the La France Art Institute and attending evening classes at the Pennsylvania Museum School of Industrial Art (now the University of the Arts). At the same time he began working as a $3-a-week apprentice in the art department of a Philadelphia lithography firm, Associated Artists. Years later, in 1941, his brother Frank founded Martino Studios at 27 South 18th Street, where Antonio worked until the 1960s.

Martino began exhibiting his work when he was just seventeen years old and experienced almost immediate success. By 1925 he had won honorable mentions from the Art Club of Philadelphia and the Philadelphia Sketch Club, and his paintings were exhibited at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia. The following year, at the age of twenty-four, Martino was awarded a bronze medal at the Sesquicentennial International Exposition in Philadelphia. Edward Redfield and Daniel Garber were part of the nine-member jury that selected the bronze medal recipients for this exhibition.

In his lifetime Martino amassed more than eighty awards for his oils and watercolors, and had ten solo exhibitions. Other awards included the Jennie Sesnan Gold Medal, Pennsylvania Academy, 1938; gold medal, DaVinci Alliance Annual Exhibit, Philadelphia, 1942; Hugo Kaster Prize, Salmagundi Club, New York, 1953; gold medal of honor, National Arts Club, New York, 1959; Saltus Gold Medal of Merit, National Academy of Design, New York, 1964; and both first prize and gold medal, California State Exposition, Sacramento, 1973.

Martino's early paintings of landscapes around New Hope and along the Delaware River show a strong impressionist influence. He and his brother Giovanni spent weekend mornings painting in Bucks County, returning in the afternoon to their studio in Philadelphia.

On June 22, 1927, Martino married Mary J Hofstetter. The marriage lasted sixty-one years. They had two children, Anthony and Marie Clementina, and nine grandchildren. The family eventually moved from Philadelphia to Gradyville Road in Newtown Square, Pennsylvania.

By the early 1930s Martino had begun painting the richly colored, darkly atmospheric landscapes of Manayunk, Pennsylvania, for which he is best known. The tiny factory town along the Schuylkill River with its canal and hillside houses would remain his favorite subject for almost forty years. In 1968 Martino told a reporter that he didn't know why he painted Manayunk, but he added, "I like hills and I like houses and Manayunk has lots of both. They tell me the villages in Abruzzi, where my father came from, arc something like this."

Martino was a friend of the Bucks County artist Walter Baum, founder (with the help of Mr. and Mrs. Charles Kline) of the Kline-Baum School (later the Baum School of Art) in Allentown, Pennsylvania. During the 1950s Martino briefly taught and exhibited his work at the school. Throughout his life he was highly respected by his professional colleagues. He was a life member of both the Water Color Society of New York and the National Academy of Design, to which he was elected in 1938. He was also a member of the DaVinci Art Alliance, Philadelphia Sketch Club, Audubon Artists, Salmagundi Club, Association of National Academicians, Philadelphia Water Color Club, and the American Watercolor Society, which selected him for a Dolphin fellowship.

His work has been exhibited at major institutions such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Corcoran Gallery of Art, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, and the Carnegie Institute. His paintings are represented in more than twenty-five permanent collections in the United States, among them the Pennsylvania Academy, the Woodmere Art Museum, the Allentown Art Museum, and the Reading Museum, all in Pennsylvania; the National Academy of Design; the University of Delaware, Newark; the American Watercolor Society; and the Butler Institute of American Art, Youngstown, Ohio.

Martino lived in Newtown Square until 1971, when he moved to Thousand Oaks, Ventura County, California. There he began painting West Coast landscapes and seascapes in the Santa Barbara and Westlake Village area. These scenes, many featuring sailboats and waterfront views, were much lighter and brighter than his Manayunk work, and these too garnered awards for Martino. Always a hard worker, he continued to paint up until a few months before his death on September 3, 1988, in Thousand Oaks, California. His wife Mary died eighteen months later.

Biography courtesy of Roughton Galleries,
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