Nineteenth century American painter Martin Johnson Heade painted landscapes, seascapes, still life and the occasional portrait, but is best known for his paintings of tropical birds, particularly hummingbirds, perched amid orchids and other exotic flowers.
These he painted in almost diorama-like compositions, usually set against backgrounds of mist shrouded tropical forest. The overall effect is dreamlike and otherworldly.
Many of his paintings of tropical flora and fauna were intended for a never-published book, to be titled “The Gems of Brazil”, inspired by his travels there early in his career.
Heade’s landscapes frequently were severely horizontal compositions of haystacks amid salt marshes, cast in atmospheric evocations of overcast days and impending or passing storms.
Critics have had difficulty classifying Heade, some calling him a Luminist, others trying to shoehorn him in with the Hudson River School, with which he was loosely associated.
Heade was delightfully idiosynchratic, following his own muse of nature, light and atmosphere.