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.
Metropolitan Museum of Art
Detroit Institute of Arts
Walters Art Museum
MFA, Boston (drawings)
Artcyclopedia (additional links and museum resources)
3 Replies to “Martin Johnson Heade”
These painting are absolutely amazing. I think that we have one Heade’s paintings at our local Reynolda House Museum of American Art in Winston-Salem, NC. If you ever have a chance to see one of his paintings in person, take advantage.
Charley, you never fail to introduce us to the most delicious art and artists! Such moody and dramatic work beautifully rendered! Thanks!
His work is at the Museum of Fine Arts Boston. Delicious.
Many years ago when I had some pictures at an exhibit at the Vose Gallery in Boston, I saw a small elegant painting of white roses in another room. My husband was as struck by it as I was. This painting despite it size carried across the room. It was of course a Martin Johnson Heade and was sold subsequently for at least one million dollars. There is nothing like seeing originals.
Great blog! I am glad I found it.
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