Born in Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico, the son of a diplomat Xavier Timoteo Martinez would eventually become a naturalized US citizen and an important figure in the California art world of the late 1800's and early 1900's.
Martinez studied at the California School of design during the early 1890's. The son of a diplomat and a world traveler in his own right, he went to Paris and studied at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in 1897. In Paris, he developed an affinity for the life of a bohemian, enjoying the freedom and creativity of the lifestyle.
Martinez's work is characterized by a blurred execution with a unique sensitivity to the use of light. His work is often described as being of the Tonalist school. Color use is limited as is detail resulting in a characteristically pleasing softness.
During the turn of the century, Martinez's studio was a center of activity for the arts scene in San Francisco. Eventually, he tired of the excitement and established a more relaxed, quiet studio in Oakland. For much of his life, starting in 1908, he was a staff member at the California School of Arts and Crafts, located in the East Bay. Xavier Timoteo Martinez died in California.