Martin Johnson Heade

American, Hudson River School, 1819-1904

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Cattleya Orchid and Three Brazilian Hummingbirds
Martin Johnson Heade
253 USD


Orchid with Two Hummingbirds
Martin Johnson Heade
253 USD

Jungle Orchids and Hummingbirds
Martin Johnson Heade
271 USD

Hummingbird Perched on the Orchid Plant
Martin Johnson Heade
252 USD

Hummingbirds and Orchids
Martin Johnson Heade
247 USD

Orchid and Hummingbird near a Mountain Waterfall
Martin Johnson Heade
252 USD

Orchids and Hummingbirds
Martin Johnson Heade
248 USD

Cattleya Orchid, Two Hummingbirds and a Beetle
Martin Johnson Heade
246 USD

Still Life with Apple Blossoms in a Nautilus Shell
Martin Johnson Heade
255 USD

Cherokee Roses in a Glass Vase
Martin Johnson Heade
246 USD

Red Roses in a Japanese Vase on a Gold Velvet Cloth
Martin Johnson Heade
241 USD

Jacqueminot Roses
Martin Johnson Heade
244 USD

Singing Beach, Manchester, Massachusetts
Martin Johnson Heade
295 USD

Lake George
Martin Johnson Heade
296 USD

Rio de Janeiro Bay
Martin Johnson Heade
294 USD

Sailing off the Coast
Martin Johnson Heade
275 USD

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 Martin Johnson Heade (August 11, 1819 – September 4, 1904) was a prolific American painter known for his salt marsh landscapes, seascapes, and depictions of tropical birds (such as hummingbirds), as well as lotus blossoms and other still lifes. His painting style and subject matter, while derived from the romanticism of the time, are regarded by art historians as a significant departure from those of his peers.

Heade was born in Lumberville, Pennsylvania, the son of a storekeeper. He studied with Edward Hicks, and possibly with Thomas Hicks. His earliest works were produced during the 1840s and were chiefly portraits. He travelled to Europe several times as a young man, became an itinerant artist on American shores, and exhibited in Philadelphia in 1841 and New York in 1843. Friendships with artists of the Hudson River School led to an interest in landscape art. In 1863, he planned to publish a volume of Brazilian hummingbirds and tropical flowers, but the project was eventually abandoned. He travelled to the tropics several times thereafter, and continued to paint birds and flowers. Heade married in 1883 and moved to St. Augustine, Florida. His chief works from this period were Floridian landscapes and flowers, particularly magnolias laid upon velvet cloth. He died in 1904. His best known works are depictions of light and shadow upon the salt marshes of New England.

Heade was not a widely known artist during his lifetime, but his work attracted the notice of scholars, art historians, and collectors during the 1940s. He quickly became recognized as a major American artist. Although often considered a Hudson River School artist, some critics and scholars take exception to this categorization. Heade's works are now in major museums and collections. His paintings are occasionally discovered in unlikely places such as garage sales and flea markets. 

Childhood and early career

Heade was born (in 1819) and raised in Lumberville, Pennsylvania, a small hamlet along the Delaware River in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. Until the mid-1850s, his family ran what is now called the Lumberville Store and Post Office, the village's sole general store. The family spelling of the name was Heed.

Heade received his first art training from the folk artist Edward Hicks, who lived in nearby Newton, and possibly also from Edward's cousin, Thomas Hicks. Heade was painting by 1839; his earliest known work is a portrait from that year. He traveled abroad and lived in Rome for two years. He first exhibited his work in 1841, at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia, and again in 1843 at the National Academy of Design in New York.[2] Heade began exhibiting regularly in 1848, after another trip to Europe, and became an itinerant artist until he settled in New York in 1859.

Transition to landscape painting 

Around 1857 Heade became interested in landscape painting, partly by meeting the established artists John Frederick Kensett and Benjamin Champney in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. Heade moved to New York City and took a studio in the Tenth Street Studio Building, which housed many of the famous Hudson River School artists of the time, such as Albert Bierstadt, Sanford Gifford, and Frederic Edwin Church. He became socially and professionally acquainted with them, and struck up a particularly close friendship with Church. Landscapes would ultimately form a third of Heade's total oeuvre. 

Tropical subjects 

Heade's interest in the tropics was piqued at least partly by the impact of Church's monumental painting Heart of the Andes (1859), now in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Heade travelled in Brazil from 1863 to 1864, where he painted an extensive series of small works, eventually numbering over forty, depicting hummingbirds. He intended the series for a planned book titled "The Gems of Brazil", but the book was never published due to financial difficulty and Heade's concerns about the quality of the reproductions. Heade nevertheless returned to the tropics twice, in 1866 journeying to Nicaragua, and in 1870 to Colombia, Panama, and Jamaica. He continued to paint romantic works of tropical birds and lush foliage into his late career. 

Salt marsh scenes

Heade's primary interest in landscape, and the works for which he is perhaps best known today, was the New England coastal salt marsh. Contrary to typical Hudson River School displays of scenic mountains, valleys, and waterfalls, Heade's marsh landscapes avoided depictions of grandeur. They focused instead on the horizontal expanse of subdued scenery, and employed repeating motifs that included small haystacks and diminutive figures. Heade also concentrated on the depiction of light and atmosphere in his marsh scenes. These and similar works have led some historians to characterize Heade as a Luminist painter. In 1883 Heade moved to Saint Augustine, Florida and took as his primary landscape subject the surrounding subtropical marshland.

Later life and still lifes 

Heade married and moved to St. Augustine, Florida in 1883. He remained there and continued to paint until his death in 1904. During his later years in St. Augustine, Heade painted numerous still lifes of southern flowers, especially magnolia blossoms laid on velvet. This was a continuation of an interest in still life that Heade had developed since the 1860s. His earlier works in this genre typically depict a display of flowers arranged in an ornate vase of small or medium size on a cloth-covered table. Heade was the only 19th-century American artist to create such an extensive body of work in both still life and landscape. Heade died in St. Augustine in 1904.