Robert Braithwaite Martineau bigraphy, stories - British artist

Robert Braithwaite Martineau : biography

1826 - 1869

Robert Braithwaite Martineau (1826–1869) was an English painter.

He attended Colfes school for a few years at the age of 15. He first trained as a lawyer and later entered the Royal Academy where he was awarded a silver medal. He studied under Pre-Raphaelite artist William Holman Hunt and once shared a studio with him. He died at the age of 43. He married Maria Wheeler and had two children with her.

His most famous painting, The Last Day in the Old Home portrays shows the feckless squire after gambling away his family's inheritance. The man portrayed is Colonel John Leslie Toke (1839–1911) who was a friend of Martineau and was painted at his country home, Godinton House in Ashford, Kent. In an odd way life came to imitate art, for J L Toke inherited the house in 1866 but lost it after four hundred years of the Toke family living there. The painting can be seen at the Tate Gallery in London. Other paintings were bequeathed to the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford and Liverpool Art Gallery by his daughter Helen. Other less well known paintings include "Kit's First Writing Lesson" and "Picciola".

It is believed that he sat for Ford Madox Brown's famous painting "Work" (apparently he is the man on the horse in the mid-ground).


  • The Spelling Lesson, Paris, Musée d'Orsay, circa 1856.
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