Saturday, December 1, 2012

Heade, Martin Johnson

Sailing off the Coast
oil on canvas
38.4 × 74 cm (15.1 × 29.1 in.)
White House, Washington, D.C., United States

Martin Johnson Heade (1819 - 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.

Heade was born in Lumberville, Pennsylvania, the son of a storekeeper. He began his career as a portrait-painter, studied in Italy, traveled in the west, and then settled in Boston as a landscape-painter. This brought him into relations with Rev. James C. Fletcher, who induced him to visit Brazil with a view to preparing an illustrated work on South American humming birds. He traveled to the tropics several times thereafter, and continued to paint birds and flowers.

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. His studio was in New York city. He painted many western and tropical scenes, also views on the Hudson and the Massachusetts coast, which are characterized by rich effects of color and light, and by poetic sentiment. 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 best known works are depictions of light and shadow upon the salt marshes of New England. His paintings are occasionally discovered in unlikely places such as garage sales and flea markets.