Fridge magnet featuring Berenice by Henri Martin, part of the National Galleries of Scotland collection.
This mesmerising painting was probably modelled by the artist Marie-Charlotte Barbaroux, Martin’s wife. It was inspired by a short story, Berenice, by the American author Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849). First published in 1835, this story was translated into French by the poet Charles Baudelaire (1821-1867).
In Poe’s gruesome tale, Egaeus, the narrator, falls in love with his beautiful cousin Berenice. She suffers from a mysterious debilitating illness, causing her to fall into a trance-like state. As Berenice’s health deteriorates, Egaeus develops intense obsessions, focusing latterly on her teeth. The girl eventually dies and Egaeus is grief-stricken. He visits her grave, as if in a dream, and later discovers her extracted teeth in a box beside him.
From the 1890s Martin adopted the neo-impressionist technique, applying small dots of paint to the canvas, which brought him huge commercial success.
Henri-Jean Guillaume "Henri" Martin (5 August 1860 – 12 November 1943) was a French painter